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Sales masters

4-week onboarding: How Srba Markovic ramps up new SDRs

November 24, 2023

Arjun Krisna

Welcome to our latest blog post where we dive into the innovative strategies of Srba Markovic, a renowned leader in the field of sales. 

In this insightful Q&A session, Srba Markovic, who leads the outbound team at DeckRobot, shares his valuable expertise and methods for ramping up Sales Development Representatives (SDRs). 

His approach, particularly his comprehensive 4-week onboarding plan, has proven to be a game-changer in the competitive world of enterprise sales. 

Whether you're a seasoned sales professional or new to the field, this blog will provide you with a wealth of knowledge and actionable strategies to enhance your sales processes and team performance.

Also, don't forget to check out our previous blog, where we put together a list of 20 must-follow GTM experts for SDRs & AEs

Could you share a bit about yourself and your journey so far?

I lead the outbound team of nine SDRs at DeckRobot, an AI tool for PowerPoint presentations specializing in enterprise sales. We target many of the largest consulting companies. Enterprise sales are challenging with long sales cycles, typically lasting six to twelve months. It requires extensive knowledge, varied tactics, and outbound strategies to convert sales messages into qualified leads. I am eager to discuss these strategies in more detail

What differences do you see in enterprise sales compared to mid-market or small business sales?

All markets are challenging, but enterprise sales are notably the most complex. We deal with multinational companies and target decision-makers, who are often very intelligent and time-constrained. Gaining their attention is challenging, typically requiring eight to twelve touchpoints for a response, whether positive or negative. Success hinges on understanding their pain points, personalizing messaging, and engaging authentically rather than mechanically. Authenticity is highly valued in these interactions

Which channels work best for reaching your type of customers?

Answering this isn't straightforward, but we focus on multichannel prospecting, which includes emails, cold calling, and LinkedIn outreach. Our approach isn't limited to just email sequences. Effective sequences should encompass multiple touchpoints: around five to six emails, two to three cold calls, and two to three LinkedIn messages, totalling approximately ten to fifteen touchpoints. The key is personalization and ensuring email deliverability. Emails must reach the inbox, not the spam folder, to be effective. Therefore, email deliverability is crucial. It's not just about sending emails but making them relevant and highly personalized to capture people's attention

How do you approach leading and motivating a team of SDRs?

There are many ways to approach outbound sales. Our team, which focuses on outbound efforts, consists of members with varying levels of seniority and experience, requiring different approaches. I conduct one-on-one coaching sessions every Monday, discussing not only work performance but also their personal lives, as I believe mental health significantly impacts professional success. 

This involves understanding the reasons behind any dips in performance, ensuring they are working with the right accounts, and meeting their targets. My leadership style involves leading by example, especially in activities like cold calling. I demonstrate the practices I expect from my team. I emphasize support over criticism, understanding that performance can vary week by week. By maintaining this supportive approach, I believe we can achieve better results as a team.

What do you look for in a potential hire for your team as an SDR?

When hiring new SDRs, I prioritize certain personal traits. Top of the list is curiosity over being right. In tech sales, no one needs to know everything or be the best, as there's always more to learn and improve. Curiosity drives exploration and learning, seeking feedback, and not settling for the status quo.

Secondly, grit is crucial. It's about feeling you're never quite there, even after hitting quotas. This mindset drives a desire for continuous achievement and reaching new heights.

Lastly, consistency and discipline are vital. It’s not necessary to be the best at cold calling or crafting sales messages, but building the pipeline daily is important. A clear workflow helps reduce stress and prepares SDRs for effective outreach. So, I look for these traits: curiosity, grit, and consistency in new hires.

Can you share how you onboard new SDRs to your team?

Our four-week onboarding plan ensures newcomers know exactly what to do from day one. The goal is to achieve about 70-80% full productivity by the end of the fourth week. The program doesn't end after four weeks; we continue to support new hires as they start performing outreach independently.

Here’s the breakdown of the 4-week onboarding program:

  • Week 1: Focus on understanding the company's product, Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), and buyer personas. New SDRs also get acquainted with the team and the company culture.
  • Week 2: Introduction to sales tools and platforms, including CRM and email sequencing tools. Training on cold calling scripts and multichannel prospecting methods.
  • Week 3: SDRs start practical application by sending emails to real prospects. Emphasis is on starting with a small number and gradually increasing, along with verifying leads and ensuring email deliverability.
  • Week 4: The focus shifts to increasing the volume of outreach and starting real call practices. There's an emphasis on shadowing top performers and increasing independence, aiming to reach 70-80% full productivity by the end of the week.

Additional Aspects of the Onboarding Program:

  • Mentorship: New SDRs are paired with top performers for shadowing and one-on-one mentorship.
  • Weekly Check-ins: Regular one-on-one coaching sessions are held to discuss progress, address challenges, and offer personalized guidance.
  • Emphasis on Mental Health: Conversations around personal well-being and mental health are encouraged to ensure overall balance.
  • Role Plays: Frequent role-playing exercises to simulate real sales situations.
  • Assessment: At the end of the fourth week, there is a test to evaluate the learning and readiness of the SDRs.

What do you attribute your success in smashing team and individual quotas to?

Yes, first of all, if you don't have a playbook, make sure to create one immediately. Playbooks often become outdated, so they need to be updated every two or three months. What worked six or twelve months ago may not be effective today.

For instance, emails are becoming less effective, but we don't stop using them. Instead, we personalize them more and understand what's working or not. 

Meanwhile, we focus on increasing our efforts in cold calling, LinkedIn messages, video prospecting, and voice prospecting to stand out. Since mailboxes are overflowing with unread emails, we need to differentiate ourselves. Sometimes sending a personalized video or a voice message on LinkedIn can be very effective.

The key to long-term success is consistency. Being consistently good is better than occasionally great. When I started as an SDR, I wasn't the best at cold calling or writing emails, but I was consistent.

I sent a certain number of emails and made cold calls every day, always building my pipeline. In the early stages, focus more on quantity over quality until you build enough pipeline. 

Then, shift the focus to quality. It's important to balance quantity and quality and maintain consistency.

If you are consistent, use multichannel prospecting, and add all these elements into your sequence, not just emails but also LinkedIn messages, cold calling, and possibly lead or voice prospecting, you'll start seeing results in a couple of weeks. This will set you apart from the rest of your SDR team

We hope this in-depth Q&A with Srba Markovic has offered you a clear and actionable roadmap for effectively training and motivating sales teams. Stay tuned for more expert insights and strategies to help you and your team achieve your sales goals.


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