Building the dream team: Kyle Coleman on hiring and onboarding SDRs

“What do you do when you don’t know what to do?”

The only wrong answer to this question is that you didn’t try anything at all. Right answers can be anything like “I asked a senior for help” or “I googled my way out of the problem”.

Kyle asks this question every time he interviews an SDR. The answers let him know if the candidate has a penchant for curiosity, which for Kyle is one of the key traits that an SDR should possess.

This is but one of the great ideas that Kyle shared on this episode of On the Flip Side. Kyle is the VP of revenue growth & enablement at Clari. He has over 10 years of experience in the field of sales and a great digital presence on LinkedIn.

Apart from what to look for in an SDR, Kyle also talked about the following in this episode:

- When should you hire your first SDR?

- The ideal hiring and onboarding process (acc. to Kyle).

- How to keep your sales team motivated?

Kushal: Hi there. Welcome to “On the Flip Side”, a podcast for anyone who wants to live their best sales life. We're going to be talking to buyers, sales managers, SDRs and AEs about things like, what does it take to be a great sales manager? Or how can you go home happy month after month? So let's dive right in. 

Hi folks, good morning, afternoon and evening, depending on wherever it is that you're joining us from. I am Kushal from Wingman. And I will be posting the super duper episode of “On the Flip Side” live. I am so excited for today's show, which is going to be all about hiring and onboarding and really building your dream SDR team. And I'm even more excited to be introducing our guest for today, Kyle Coleman, who is the VP of revenue growth and enablement at Clari, and a very respected and loved sales leader and also has a little bit of social media flak at times for all of that SDR love as well, which we'll get to a little later in the segment. Kyle, so great to have you on the show today.

Kyle Coleman: Thank you so much. It's a pleasure being here.

Kushal: Okay, great. Kyle, you know what, I'm just gonna get right to it because I know we're on the dot. We've got 30. I want to make this worth everyone's time today. So what's really the best time like when should you start looking forward, and when should you really hire your first SDR?

Kyle Coleman: This is an excellent question. And like any good question, the answer is, it depends. It depends on how much product market fit you have, how well developed your product is, how ready your company is to support customers. But all that said, I think the sooner the better. And the reason I say the sooner the better is because what an SDR can do for you is help you really pressure test message resonance in a very fast way. It is hard to get digital ads up and Event Marketing going and Account Based Marketing and all these types of things, it's really hard to do that. It's much easier, quicker I should say, to get an outbound motion, going to identify who your ideal customer profiles are, identify who your ideal personas are that you want to reach out to, and put your SDR in charge of doing the outreach and doing the analysis and seeing what subject lines are resonating. Okay, that messaging is probably good and which emails are they responding to? Okay, this is probably going to work and to get that back and forth. What kind of conversations am I having now with these prospects and what's most top of mind for them. And so this SDR can really fast forward a lot of the thinking that you need to do to capture the voice of your customer. And I've seen over and over and over again, companies that hire SDRs earlier, typically find that message resonance quicker than those who wait.

Kushal: I think all of the SDRs in the world will be super glad and happy to hear you say that, of course, for obvious reasons. Here’s another perspective on this though, a lot of folks who also say that, you know, maybe especially and this is especially true for startups and smaller companies, that maybe founders themselves should sort of be leading from the front, they should be testing the messaging, they should see if there is resonance. And then once they feel like you know, that messaging is working, then they should kind of go ahead, bring in a sales leader, bring in a sales team, and start the outbound motion. How do you feel about that?

Kyle Coleman: I think that's probably true. And again, it depends, if your founder is able and willing and does a good job in those types of settings, sales meetings and things like that, then yes, by all means. But at the same time, they're the founder of the company, and they've got a lot of different things to do, you know, managing investors and looking at product developments and, and all those sorts of things. And so is it the absolute best use of their time to be in the trenches executing kind of an outbound strategy? Maybe not. But should they be perhaps on those meetings that a SDR is setting up? Probably. So I think there's a nice happy medium. That was certainly the case when I started at my first company, “Looker”. I was the 6th employee, I was the first SDR, and I was setting meetings up for our founder and our VP of Sales at the time. And they were taking a lot of these first meetings and learning and learning and learning. And that was creating that feedback loop back to me to say, here's how we need to change the outbound approach, here's how I need to change my talk track on the phone. So there's a virtuous cycle that you can create. I think the more responsibility founders take to be involved in conversation… sales conversations earlier, probably the better. But again, I don't think that that is in place of having that outbound motion really well thought out early on inside your company. Oh, I think you're on mute.

Kushal: Did one of those again, awesome. So I think at this point, a lot of SDRs are probably thinking, does this mean that the founders are going to start micromanaging? Are they going to be on every call, every meeting, listening to everything I'm saying, you know, that whisper in my ear all the time, and they're probably saying, you know, they’re probably saying, Kyle, why would you say that? But that's just you know, one side, I think that is a great balance. And I've seen founders, indeed ours, Shruti at our company, and indeed others as well, who kind of do it really well, in my opinion. Maybe going on to the next question. What should you really be looking for in your first SDR hire? I know you ran a poll around, you know, the different attributes and what you think is the most important. I know you said curiosity was, you know, the number one thing for you. What about grit, coachability, creativity and all of those other things?

Kyle Coleman: Of course, I mean, it's really hard to say the one thing, it's much easier to say the 10 things you should be looking for. But the poll question was one, my answer of curiosity is the rationale is because I believe that curiosity can't be taught, I think you either have it or you don't. And if you have it, it's indicative of you having passion for your work, taking pride in your work, having grit, having perseverance, being coachable, wanting to always learn. So I think curiosity is a really useful catch all for a lot of the other things that you mentioned, Kushal. It's not to dismiss the importance of coachability, of grit, tenacity, all those things, super important organization, time management, all these things matter. But what I have found is that if somebody is really curious about their process, their personas, their product, the people they work with, if they're really curious about all of these things, they're successful. It's because they care. And they are self-starting. They're autonomous. They think for themselves, they don't just execute something that they're told to execute. And to me, that's the secret sauce. And if you can find people that behave this way, if you can find people who find answers who find a way to do something when they don't know what to do, that is I find it a key, a major, major key.

Kushal: This kind of brings me nicely along to my next question, which is really around, you know, your favorite interview questions and you know, your hiring techniques, I know that you're probably looking for curiosity. So how is that you actually test for curiosity in an interview or in a hiring process? And I think this is something that sales leaders are going to be interested in, but also SDRs. But on the other end, and they're wondering how they can up their game when it comes to interviews?

Kyle Coleman: So to test for curiosity, one of my favorite questions is actually something I just said, which is, “What do you do when you don't know what to do?” Tell me about a time you had no idea what the next step was? What was your approach? And people's answers to that question is really, really telling. Some people say, you know, they, they took it upon themselves to go to Google and do some wild searches and find what they could find and then just run with it and see what happened. Other people say, a combination of Google searches, but asking other people, some would say all I tried to learn from somebody or somebody something that was similar to the experience that I was trying to replicate. And so people go down a few different paths. 

The bad answers are people who say, I didn't know what to do, I got flummoxed. And, you know, I got kind of stuck. And that does happen, people do say that. But what do you do when you don't know what to do? One of my favorite questions. And of course, it's not just that question, it's then you drilling into the scenario that the person is talking about and getting kind of the layers of their thought process, because that's what you're really trying to understand in an interview is, how does this person think, how does this person solve problems? What do they care about, what's important to them? So that's one of my favorite questions. 

One of my other favorite questions is very non-traditional, has very little to do with curiosity, and more to do with kind of just who the person is and how they communicate. And what I asked them is, instead of like, pitch me your product, or pitch me my product, sell me Clari. I don't ask that question anymore. Because I found the answers to be basically an exercise and how well can they read my website? That's not that interesting to me. And so now what I ask is, pitch me your passion? What is the thing in your life that you lose time when you're doing you lose track of time, or you just you talk people's ear off about? Like, what is that thing for you? And what I get from this answer is dollars, I see them light up, I see them sell me on something, and then my job, assuming they do a good job of selling me on this thing. I just have to get them this excited about Clari. And I know that they can take this sales, this methodology, this way of communicating, and translate it to my product. So I love asking people to pitch me their passion, I also get to know them a little bit more beyond like, you know, the SDR candidate. And I think it's a very revealing question.

Kushal: I think that's a great way to sort of think about it. And I can see how that can scale so well across different roles and even different functions, whether that's product or marketing, or really so many others. And like you said, it's a great way to get to know someone outside of you know, what their 9-5, or their 9-6, whatever, or their flexible working is going to look like as well. So just going a little beyond that, what does your ideal hiring, is it an assignment? Is it just a couple of interviews? Is it run across a couple of days, wrapped up within a day? What is your ideal scenario look like, based on your experience?

Kyle Coleman: Great question. My ideal experience actually starts with something that's in the candidate’s control. I love candidates who are proactive in their outreach, not just to me, but to other people on our team, candidates who reach out to individual SDRs on the team to understand what the role is, the day to day candidate to reach out to our hiring managers to reach out to our AEs and talk about the relationship. People that are proactive, they get immediately to the top of the pile. I want to see people exhibit the skills that I want them to exhibit in the role prior to speaking to them. Now once the interview actually starts, I like a few things. I like our hiring managers, of course, to meet and run the majority of the interview. But I think it's really, really important that our SDR candidates meet individual SDRs. And typically, we'll do this in pairs where a pair of our SDRs will speak with the candidate, just have a pretty informal discussion about what is the day to day like? What are the things that go really well? What are the things that you struggle with? Really tell it to me straight? It's so, so important for candidates to get as much context as possible about what the job actually is. And there's no better way to do that than to get individual SDRs on the phone or on the zoom with our candidates. So I don't skip that step. We do some sort of assignment, which is more of a writing… a written assignment to assess their research skills and their written communication skills. We don't do any sort of like phone assignment really at all. And that's typically a pretty comprehensive way to say what is this person really bringing to the table?

Kushal: Got it. And sort of you know going a little bit ahead, assuming you know, you've sort of found the right candidates, you close them, they've joined, what is your ideal sort of the onboarding experience look like? And how long do you really think it takes to ramp up an SDR?

Kyle Coleman: This is one of the topics that I get the most flak for from other people in the space. Because I personally believe that the role of the SDR in 2022 is much more complex, much more multifaceted, and therefore much more difficult than it was 5, certainly 10 years ago. And what I don't believe is the best way to rent people is just say, day one, week one, throw them on the phone, let them fail, let them learn from that failure, trial by fire sort of way. I think that's a little bit too much too fast. 

I think about onboarding as being truly an 8 to 12 week sort of exercise. And depending on how much experience they're bringing in, if they have experienced bringing in, we can skip some of the tools, certification and things like that. But I think it takes one to two, maybe up to three weeks for people to really feel comfortable with messaging. And so we do certifications on phone, cold calling voicemails, email, writing personalized email writing, LinkedIn work, video messaging tools certifications, so that you know how to use LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and you know how to use Salesforce and you can use Clari, and you know, all these things that you have at your disposal. 6sense is one of our key tools. 

And then in that kind of week, two week, three timeframe, they have this foundational confidence where, okay, now, we're going to graduate you into doing the job. Do we expect you to execute a full slate of activities? No, we expect you to do this sort of graduated work where maybe instead of 100 calls this week, you're gonna make 20 to 30. And just see how that goes, we're gonna learn from them. And instead of sending 50 personalized emails this week, let's try and write 15 and see how that goes. And then we work them all the way up and up and up until about week 8 or so when they're operating at a fully ramped sort of cadence. And then I say 12 weeks because it takes 12 typically, for people to feel really comfortable and proficient in the work that they're doing. I know who I'm going to call today, I know who I'm going to email. I know my account plan, I'm working well with my AEs like that to me is fully ramped. Fully ramped is when you have some sort of mastery of the work you're doing, proficiency and the work you're doing. And of course, there's still plenty of room for improvement. But you have a really, really solid foundation that you can start to build on. And it takes time. Takes a lot of time. 

Kushal: I'm pretty sure a lot of sales leaders are thinking right now. Oh my God, Kyle, you know, you're killing me, 12 weeks on onboarding someone, but I see the virtue. And I'm sure a lot of leaders as well SDRs themselves will see the virtue of what you're saying. Because you're right, it really does take quite a bit of time to kind of understand the company, the customers, the tools, the skills, everything that you really need to do your job well. And like you said, it's about getting into that comfort zone and kind of knowing and developing that confidence really of doing that job well versus, you know, just working the phones, just sending emails, just sending, you know, video links, developing that overall confidence.

Kyle Coleman: We don't hire people to just hit dial and then hit dial again, we hire people who have brains, and we want to teach them how to think. And so that's a lot of what our onboarding is. And I don't mean to say that that 8 to 12 weeks, they're not productive, of course, they're productive. They're doing a lot of the work. It's just ramped productivity on the path to full productivity. So sales leaders out there, I'm sorry to scare you. But you know, I'm talking about like operating at 60 to 80% of full capacity, not zero. So take the time to develop the skills to make sure that your team knows how to think and really understands a process well enough to make it their own, to change it, to evolve the process. If you're hiring people just to come in and follow a playbook that never changes, you're gonna die, like that is a recipe for failure. So the evolution comes from the people doing the job. And if you train them how to operate within a framework, how to think about their role and how to change that process, evolve that process in a useful direction, that's the key to sustained excellence.

Kushal: That sounds like an excellent point, really, Kyle, that you know, you really want your SDRs, you know, your entire team really to be able to kind of take on what you've already built, and really kind of tweak it, change it, adapt it to what's really working in the market, there's so many newer techniques, platforms that are coming up every day. Prospects are getting bombarded with so much today. So what worked a couple of years, maybe even months before is probably not going to cut it today. So you kind of need to be on the frontlines. And I think that part about really getting feedback from the frontlines, and allowing people to really kind of change the playbook, keep on tweaking it to making it better, I think that's super key. I can see as a prospect, even myself who gets prospected, I can see how that would make a major difference as well. 

Kyle, just going a little bit, what do you think is really the best way to be motivating, you know, your SDRs and your sales team? What do you think they respond the best to? Is it you know, immediate shoutouts for, you know, jobs well done? You know, is it celebrations every time someone closes a deal, you know, is it a great comp package that you know, you kind of upgrade as soon as you can? What do you think works best?

Kyle Coleman: It's a really good question. And it depends, again, I'm sorry to keep the answer here. But it depends on the individual from a recognition and praise standpoint. Some people like public praise, some people prefer it in private. Ask them, ask them. You know, hey, when you do a good job, and this is one of your first one on ones with them, “When you do a good job, how do you want me to celebrate that? Do you want that to be in a team meeting? Do you want that to be in a Slack channel? Do you want that to be in a one on one? How do you want it because I'm going to celebrate you in some way?” And I want to make sure that I do it in the right way for you. So ask them about praise. 

Now, with respect to that kind of motivation, broader motivation, the SDR job is really hard, as previously discussed, I don't think that's up for debate. The thing that I think keeps people motivated is the light at the end of the tunnel, they have to see that there is a pathway for growth for them. And growth does not necessarily mean promotion, although many times it does, it means being continually challenged, but also continually fulfilled in the work that they're doing. And so what you as an SDR leader and really, of any leader of any team have to make sure that you're doing is keeping a really close finger on the pulse of what experiences does this person want or need to feel challenged and fulfilled? And again, secret here, ask them what do you want? Many SDRs, I should say go into sales and many don’t. Some people are more interested in operations or marketing or customer success or deal desk or whatever. And you have to find a way to give them exposure to those things, so that they understand what options they have. And then you could design a growth path for them. That's giving them exposure, giving them new experiences, keeping them challenged and fulfilled. And then ultimately, if all goes well, promoting them into that new role. So make sure that everybody always sees that light at the end of the tunnel because some weeks are terrible as an SDR, nothing works for you. And you're really down. But if you have that long term goal in mind that says, if I put in the effort, if I do my job the right way, if I work with my colleagues the right way, it's in service of this long term goal. And I know I'm gonna get there in 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, whatever that is. And if that goal is always there, as like this beacon that they're driving toward, it gives more meaning to their work. It's not just about getting the meetings. Yes, that's a great feeling. It's not just about creating pipeline, although that is fundamental to a company's success. It's about personal growth. And if that is if that is the main goal that your team knows, you're always about, they're always motivated. So way easier said than done. But it's a shift of focus that's really more about the individuals, and knowing and trusting that if you focus this way, the results will come.

Kushal: So what you're saying, Kyle, it really sounds like you actually have to care about your SDRs versus treating them as another piece of the machinery to kind of you know, keep your revenue up? Do you think people think of it in that way? What do you see across the industry?

Kyle Coleman: Unfortunately, yes, I think that a lot of sales and just in general and SDR leaders view their people as numbers on a dashboard instead of people. And that's a huge mistake. Like if you ever lose sight of the fact that these are people, that they're not replaceable. They're not just cogs in the machine. They are people that have different ways of thinking, different goals, different ways to stay motivated, different aspirations. Like if you lose sight of that you are in major, major trouble. And it just becomes heartless, it becomes soulless. People don't care as much about the work that they do because they feel disconnected from the leadership. They feel disconnected from the company as a result. So I think a lot of companies, unfortunately, get too focused on the metrics and lose sight of the people and it's to their detriment.

Kushal: Since we're talking about you know, motivating your team, etc. I know a while ago, everyone was talking about the great resignation in sales but even otherwise, where people really were rethinking how they could work, where they could work from and really what they wanted to do in that world. I know a lot of sales leaders were increasingly talking about, you know how easy or difficult it was to kind of retain their existing talent and not kind of have it leave them go somewhere else, a better place, maybe remote, whatever their motivations are. How to sort of view that and what have your own experiences been through all of this?

Kyle Coleman: People leave companies when they don't feel like their company cares about them. And they don't feel like their, their leadership cares about them. And of course, there's compensation reasons, and it's more nuanced than that. And the sales market in particular is very hot right now. And offers are, you know, there can be some pretty attractive offers. And people skate toward that and you know, more power to them. We lost zero people on our SDR team, and we promoted 11 in the last 12 months, and it's because of this…

Kushal: Where I can sign up?

Kyle Coleman: Clari.com It's because of this philosophy and it's because our director of SDR, a guy named Alex, he shares the same exact philosophy as what we've been talking about today. He cares so much about the people on the team, and he works tirelessly on their behalf to make them successful in their role, but also to get them off the team. And it's these diametrically opposed things that is so hard as an SDR leader where you want your people to be the best, and you want your best people to leave the team and graduate into something else in the company. And it's something that myself and Alex and the rest of our leadership team take tremendous pride in is the SDR team is the bench of talent for the rest of the company. We want people to move into AE roles to, to marketing, to customer success and then we have people. People infiltrated all across the business as a result. And that is a really, really good feeling. Hitting your pipeline numbers feels really good. Graduating people and looking at our little slide of SDR graduates where you can barely see people's faces anymore, because there's so many of them, that's a better feeling. So that's what we try and chase and really that is, that philosophy, that mindset is what leads to retention.

Kushal: I kind of just curious, for a lot of folks SDRs sit within the sales function, for some folks, they fit within the marketing function. How do you view this question of you know, which team SDRs really belong with, and you know, what works best in your experience?

Kyle Coleman: So I have the unique experience of having been at a super small company that grew, I was again, six employee that grew up to about 800, by the time I left, so I've seen a few different stages of growth. I've never been at an enormous, you know, 50,000 person company, so I don't have that purview. What I can say is that when my previous company was super small, it was a huge benefit to be a part of the marketing team. For the reasons that we already discussed. I was sort of the front lines for marketing messaging. And I was working very closely with contractors that were doing product marketing and website because sort of landing page copy and event marketing and all that sort of thing. And we're working really closely together to hone that message, to understand who our ideal customer profile was, to understand who our personas were, and what they care about what's most top of mind. And so as we kind of figured a lot of that out, and the primary goal was to get as many at bats for our sales team as possible was all about meetings, it was all about learning our that… getting that learning loop going between sales and marketing, that was huge to be joined at the hip with marketing. 

As we grew, maybe when we were about 150 or 200 employees, somewhere in there, we made a shift from quantity as the main goal. We learned, we know now we feel really good about our messaging. Now we need to focus on efficiency. And efficiency comes from quality. So we don't want to just throw everything over the fence on our sales team. But now we know ICP, we know personas, we have some good qualification criteria, we have a good SDR team. Now, we need to work more closely with our sales team to make sure that that quality is really being hit as much as possible. And that we're getting as setting our sales team up for success with the right kinds of meetings, the right kinds of opportunities. So that was a shift from meetings at the early part to opportunities and the later in the later part. And so I see both working, I think there's a time for both. At Clari, we report into sales because we want to maintain this closeness with our AEs, we work in lockstep on account plans, and outreach strategies and all those sorts of things. And just having that really tight relationship with sales is extremely important. And our primary success metric is pipeline, qualified opportunities and pipeline. And that is what our sales team cares the most about. And finally, our most common promotion path is to a sales role. And so it's really useful for myself to have a closer relationship with our CRO with our SVP of sales and all those types of people that can just make sure that that promotion path is always on.

Kushal: Kyle, I think that's super useful for a lot of folks who are thinking about you know, increasingly how to structure their teams, especially when that sort of building up the team from the ground up. So I think that's going to be super useful advice for everyone. Kyle, just kind of stepping back a little bit you know, to you and you know, what you've learned along the way, what's maybe some advice that you would be giving to your younger self from now?

Kyle Coleman: Oh man, this is one I think about actually quite a bit. And I think with the benefit of retrospect, it's what the advice that I would give people right now is appreciate the work that you're doing. Take a step, slow down for a minute and look around and really realize, as an SDR, you are getting so much exposure to a world of marketing, you're getting so much exposure to the world of sales, you are building this really deep understanding of a lot of these go to market things that many, many other roles don't get. You're developing this fluency of language to be able to understand marketing metrics and what matters, MQLs and SQLs, and top of funnel awareness, SEO, all this stuff, you're getting that exposure, but also sales, pipeline coverage and ratios and qualified opportunities, call criteria, sales process, methodology, all these things, you're getting this dual exposure, and you're building this really, really solid foundation for success. So appreciate it. No, the work is not always easy. It wouldn't be fun if it was always easy, it's challenging, and it's rewarding for that reason. So relish that fact, understand that the work you're doing now is creating this foundation that you're going to leverage for the rest of your career and appreciate it like really, really appreciate it. That would be my advice to my younger self.

Kushal: I think that's pretty amazing. I think a lot of SDRs and a lot of younger folks really do, folks, everyone, I think a lot of us can kind of do with a more positive attitude, especially when it comes to challenges. Growth is never easy. Like you said, it comes with its fair set of challenges. So I think kind of having the right mindset really about it, and maybe not taking it too seriously in the moment as well will kind of help you, you know, smoothen over some of those things as well. 

We're open to questions, by the way, folks, in case you'd like to ask Kyle something as we have a couple of minutes. So if there's something you'd like to ask, I'll just pop it into the LinkedIn chat and I will go over and check on it. In the meantime, Kyle, I'd love to kind of play this fun segment with you, which is called wrong meanings only. So I'm gonna throw some words at you. I’d love to hear what those wrong meanings only would be for you. And this could be sarcastic, funny, real, whatever that is, but wrong meanings. So the first one, if you're ready for this?

Kyle Coleman: I’m ready.

Kushal: Is “Sales Coaching”.

Kyle Coleman: Sales coaching, wrong meaning of sales coaching is berating people for what they did wrong. That is not the right way to do sales coaching. The right way to do sales coaching is inquisitive, ask them questions about why they said something or phrase something or the way they did or why they wrote something the way they did, understand the thought process and try and correct the thought process. Don't try and just create a miniature version of yourself. That is the wrong meaning of sales coaching, don't just yell at people for not doing something the way you would have done something, that is not productive. Really, really try and coach them how to think, how to act, how to behave. And if you can focus on that. That is the right meaning

Kushal: Got it. I think we love that. Here's another one “Cold Calling”.

Kyle Coleman: Cold calling is not telemarketing. That is the wrong meaning of cold calling, cold calling is… gets a bad rap. Because a lot of people don't aren't as thoughtful about it as they should be. I like to think of cold calling, or the first step to cold calling is manufacturing more, connect with that person on LinkedIn, understand what's going on in the world, do some research on them or their account, and then you're not cold calling, all of a sudden you have a perspective on them, their company, whatever it is, and your warm calling, you have an actual reason for reaching out, you're confident that your solution can help them and you're not telemarketing, you're introducing them to a solution that you would genuinely believe can help them. If that's your mindset, that's not cold calling. 

Kushal: Got it. Okay, so Will Morrison, when building a BDR playbook from scratch, how would you prioritize what projects to tackle first? This is for a BDR playbook, that's a whole other episode, but what would your answer be?

Kyle Coleman: It's really hard. I think that, well the thing that I would focus on first is really understanding who your personas are. And then this framework that I think about it is the pains that they experience, and the gains they realize from using your platform. So really, really understand the day to day work they do you know, month over month metrics maybe that they're responsible for and what is painful for them about doing that work or realizing those metrics, what is holding them back. And if you can get kind of six to eight main pain points that that person cares about. And then you can position your solution as solve for those pains, you're creating a framework that is extensible to cold calling and to emailing and video messaging and all the outreach that you'll ever need to do. So pains and gains as a first step for building out an SDR program. Foundational not the sexiest thing in the world, but super, super important.

Kushal: Yeah, I think most of you know the important things aren't sexy work. It's a lot of ground work. It's lot ground but that needs to be done. Do you have time to have one last question, Kyle?

Kyle Coleman: One more, let's do it.

Kushal: Awesome. So Vishnu at Nooks asked a question, Hey, Kushal and Kyle, what are your thoughts on team call blitzes being a solid silver bullet for coaching, motivating and hitting more activity. Team call blitzes, how do we feel about that?

Kyle Coleman: Love it. Absolutely love it, Vishnu. It's so good for camaraderie. It's so good for, as you mentioned earlier, Kushal, like don't take it too seriously. If you're alone on a call, and somebody is super rude to you, it's demoralizing. Like, it's sad. But if you're in a team call and somebody's super rude to you, it is hilarious like people laugh, you forget that you don't lose sight of the fact that you know, we're not out here curing cancer. You know, we're out here selling software. And people that are rude, it's a reflection of them. It's not a reflection of you. And having that team call Blitzes, great for activity, great for camaraderie, great for team culture, great for metrics, all of that, but really great for mindset and that's huge. So big proponent of Team conferences.

Kushal: Great stuff, Kyle. Thank you so much for taking these questions and going a little bit over time and really for sharing very openly and, you know, everything you stand for and that you think about building up your SDR team. Really appreciate your time today with us.

Kyle Coleman: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much.

Kushal: Thank you, Kyle.

Building the dream team: Kyle on hiring and onboarding SDRs

“What do you do when you don’t know what to do?”

The only wrong answer to this question is that you didn’t try anything at all. Right answers can be anything like “I asked a senior for help” or “I googled my way out of the problem”.

Kyle asks this question every time he interviews an SDR. The answers let him know if the candidate has a penchant for curiosity, which for Kyle is one of the key traits that an SDR should possess.

This is but one of the great ideas that Kyle shared on this episode of On the Flip Side. Kyle is the VP of revenue growth & enablement at Clari. He has over 10 years of experience in the field of sales and a great digital presence on LinkedIn.

Apart from what to look for in an SDR, Kyle also talked about the following in this episode:

- When should you hire your first SDR?

- The ideal hiring and onboarding process (acc. to Kyle).

- How to keep your sales team motivated?

Kushal: Hi there. Welcome to “On the Flip Side”, a podcast for anyone who wants to live their best sales life. We're going to be talking to buyers, sales managers, SDRs and AEs about things like, what does it take to be a great sales manager? Or how can you go home happy month after month? So let's dive right in. 

Hi folks, good morning, afternoon and evening, depending on wherever it is that you're joining us from. I am Kushal from Wingman. And I will be posting the super duper episode of “On the Flip Side” live. I am so excited for today's show, which is going to be all about hiring and onboarding and really building your dream SDR team. And I'm even more excited to be introducing our guest for today, Kyle Coleman, who is the VP of revenue growth and enablement at Clari, and a very respected and loved sales leader and also has a little bit of social media flak at times for all of that SDR love as well, which we'll get to a little later in the segment. Kyle, so great to have you on the show today.

Kyle Coleman: Thank you so much. It's a pleasure being here.

Kushal: Okay, great. Kyle, you know what, I'm just gonna get right to it because I know we're on the dot. We've got 30. I want to make this worth everyone's time today. So what's really the best time like when should you start looking forward, and when should you really hire your first SDR?

Kyle Coleman: This is an excellent question. And like any good question, the answer is, it depends. It depends on how much product market fit you have, how well developed your product is, how ready your company is to support customers. But all that said, I think the sooner the better. And the reason I say the sooner the better is because what an SDR can do for you is help you really pressure test message resonance in a very fast way. It is hard to get digital ads up and Event Marketing going and Account Based Marketing and all these types of things, it's really hard to do that. It's much easier, quicker I should say, to get an outbound motion, going to identify who your ideal customer profiles are, identify who your ideal personas are that you want to reach out to, and put your SDR in charge of doing the outreach and doing the analysis and seeing what subject lines are resonating. Okay, that messaging is probably good and which emails are they responding to? Okay, this is probably going to work and to get that back and forth. What kind of conversations am I having now with these prospects and what's most top of mind for them. And so this SDR can really fast forward a lot of the thinking that you need to do to capture the voice of your customer. And I've seen over and over and over again, companies that hire SDRs earlier, typically find that message resonance quicker than those who wait.

Kushal: I think all of the SDRs in the world will be super glad and happy to hear you say that, of course, for obvious reasons. Here’s another perspective on this though, a lot of folks who also say that, you know, maybe especially and this is especially true for startups and smaller companies, that maybe founders themselves should sort of be leading from the front, they should be testing the messaging, they should see if there is resonance. And then once they feel like you know, that messaging is working, then they should kind of go ahead, bring in a sales leader, bring in a sales team, and start the outbound motion. How do you feel about that?

Kyle Coleman: I think that's probably true. And again, it depends, if your founder is able and willing and does a good job in those types of settings, sales meetings and things like that, then yes, by all means. But at the same time, they're the founder of the company, and they've got a lot of different things to do, you know, managing investors and looking at product developments and, and all those sorts of things. And so is it the absolute best use of their time to be in the trenches executing kind of an outbound strategy? Maybe not. But should they be perhaps on those meetings that a SDR is setting up? Probably. So I think there's a nice happy medium. That was certainly the case when I started at my first company, “Looker”. I was the 6th employee, I was the first SDR, and I was setting meetings up for our founder and our VP of Sales at the time. And they were taking a lot of these first meetings and learning and learning and learning. And that was creating that feedback loop back to me to say, here's how we need to change the outbound approach, here's how I need to change my talk track on the phone. So there's a virtuous cycle that you can create. I think the more responsibility founders take to be involved in conversation… sales conversations earlier, probably the better. But again, I don't think that that is in place of having that outbound motion really well thought out early on inside your company. Oh, I think you're on mute.

Kushal: Did one of those again, awesome. So I think at this point, a lot of SDRs are probably thinking, does this mean that the founders are going to start micromanaging? Are they going to be on every call, every meeting, listening to everything I'm saying, you know, that whisper in my ear all the time, and they're probably saying, you know, they’re probably saying, Kyle, why would you say that? But that's just you know, one side, I think that is a great balance. And I've seen founders, indeed ours, Shruti at our company, and indeed others as well, who kind of do it really well, in my opinion. Maybe going on to the next question. What should you really be looking for in your first SDR hire? I know you ran a poll around, you know, the different attributes and what you think is the most important. I know you said curiosity was, you know, the number one thing for you. What about grit, coachability, creativity and all of those other things?

Kyle Coleman: Of course, I mean, it's really hard to say the one thing, it's much easier to say the 10 things you should be looking for. But the poll question was one, my answer of curiosity is the rationale is because I believe that curiosity can't be taught, I think you either have it or you don't. And if you have it, it's indicative of you having passion for your work, taking pride in your work, having grit, having perseverance, being coachable, wanting to always learn. So I think curiosity is a really useful catch all for a lot of the other things that you mentioned, Kushal. It's not to dismiss the importance of coachability, of grit, tenacity, all those things, super important organization, time management, all these things matter. But what I have found is that if somebody is really curious about their process, their personas, their product, the people they work with, if they're really curious about all of these things, they're successful. It's because they care. And they are self-starting. They're autonomous. They think for themselves, they don't just execute something that they're told to execute. And to me, that's the secret sauce. And if you can find people that behave this way, if you can find people who find answers who find a way to do something when they don't know what to do, that is I find it a key, a major, major key.

Kushal: This kind of brings me nicely along to my next question, which is really around, you know, your favorite interview questions and you know, your hiring techniques, I know that you're probably looking for curiosity. So how is that you actually test for curiosity in an interview or in a hiring process? And I think this is something that sales leaders are going to be interested in, but also SDRs. But on the other end, and they're wondering how they can up their game when it comes to interviews?

Kyle Coleman: So to test for curiosity, one of my favorite questions is actually something I just said, which is, “What do you do when you don't know what to do?” Tell me about a time you had no idea what the next step was? What was your approach? And people's answers to that question is really, really telling. Some people say, you know, they, they took it upon themselves to go to Google and do some wild searches and find what they could find and then just run with it and see what happened. Other people say, a combination of Google searches, but asking other people, some would say all I tried to learn from somebody or somebody something that was similar to the experience that I was trying to replicate. And so people go down a few different paths. 

The bad answers are people who say, I didn't know what to do, I got flummoxed. And, you know, I got kind of stuck. And that does happen, people do say that. But what do you do when you don't know what to do? One of my favorite questions. And of course, it's not just that question, it's then you drilling into the scenario that the person is talking about and getting kind of the layers of their thought process, because that's what you're really trying to understand in an interview is, how does this person think, how does this person solve problems? What do they care about, what's important to them? So that's one of my favorite questions. 

One of my other favorite questions is very non-traditional, has very little to do with curiosity, and more to do with kind of just who the person is and how they communicate. And what I asked them is, instead of like, pitch me your product, or pitch me my product, sell me Clari. I don't ask that question anymore. Because I found the answers to be basically an exercise and how well can they read my website? That's not that interesting to me. And so now what I ask is, pitch me your passion? What is the thing in your life that you lose time when you're doing you lose track of time, or you just you talk people's ear off about? Like, what is that thing for you? And what I get from this answer is dollars, I see them light up, I see them sell me on something, and then my job, assuming they do a good job of selling me on this thing. I just have to get them this excited about Clari. And I know that they can take this sales, this methodology, this way of communicating, and translate it to my product. So I love asking people to pitch me their passion, I also get to know them a little bit more beyond like, you know, the SDR candidate. And I think it's a very revealing question.

Kushal: I think that's a great way to sort of think about it. And I can see how that can scale so well across different roles and even different functions, whether that's product or marketing, or really so many others. And like you said, it's a great way to get to know someone outside of you know, what their 9-5, or their 9-6, whatever, or their flexible working is going to look like as well. So just going a little beyond that, what does your ideal hiring, is it an assignment? Is it just a couple of interviews? Is it run across a couple of days, wrapped up within a day? What is your ideal scenario look like, based on your experience?

Kyle Coleman: Great question. My ideal experience actually starts with something that's in the candidate’s control. I love candidates who are proactive in their outreach, not just to me, but to other people on our team, candidates who reach out to individual SDRs on the team to understand what the role is, the day to day candidate to reach out to our hiring managers to reach out to our AEs and talk about the relationship. People that are proactive, they get immediately to the top of the pile. I want to see people exhibit the skills that I want them to exhibit in the role prior to speaking to them. Now once the interview actually starts, I like a few things. I like our hiring managers, of course, to meet and run the majority of the interview. But I think it's really, really important that our SDR candidates meet individual SDRs. And typically, we'll do this in pairs where a pair of our SDRs will speak with the candidate, just have a pretty informal discussion about what is the day to day like? What are the things that go really well? What are the things that you struggle with? Really tell it to me straight? It's so, so important for candidates to get as much context as possible about what the job actually is. And there's no better way to do that than to get individual SDRs on the phone or on the zoom with our candidates. So I don't skip that step. We do some sort of assignment, which is more of a writing… a written assignment to assess their research skills and their written communication skills. We don't do any sort of like phone assignment really at all. And that's typically a pretty comprehensive way to say what is this person really bringing to the table?

Kushal: Got it. And sort of you know going a little bit ahead, assuming you know, you've sort of found the right candidates, you close them, they've joined, what is your ideal sort of the onboarding experience look like? And how long do you really think it takes to ramp up an SDR?

Kyle Coleman: This is one of the topics that I get the most flak for from other people in the space. Because I personally believe that the role of the SDR in 2022 is much more complex, much more multifaceted, and therefore much more difficult than it was 5, certainly 10 years ago. And what I don't believe is the best way to rent people is just say, day one, week one, throw them on the phone, let them fail, let them learn from that failure, trial by fire sort of way. I think that's a little bit too much too fast. 

I think about onboarding as being truly an 8 to 12 week sort of exercise. And depending on how much experience they're bringing in, if they have experienced bringing in, we can skip some of the tools, certification and things like that. But I think it takes one to two, maybe up to three weeks for people to really feel comfortable with messaging. And so we do certifications on phone, cold calling voicemails, email, writing personalized email writing, LinkedIn work, video messaging tools certifications, so that you know how to use LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and you know how to use Salesforce and you can use Clari, and you know, all these things that you have at your disposal. 6sense is one of our key tools. 

And then in that kind of week, two week, three timeframe, they have this foundational confidence where, okay, now, we're going to graduate you into doing the job. Do we expect you to execute a full slate of activities? No, we expect you to do this sort of graduated work where maybe instead of 100 calls this week, you're gonna make 20 to 30. And just see how that goes, we're gonna learn from them. And instead of sending 50 personalized emails this week, let's try and write 15 and see how that goes. And then we work them all the way up and up and up until about week 8 or so when they're operating at a fully ramped sort of cadence. And then I say 12 weeks because it takes 12 typically, for people to feel really comfortable and proficient in the work that they're doing. I know who I'm going to call today, I know who I'm going to email. I know my account plan, I'm working well with my AEs like that to me is fully ramped. Fully ramped is when you have some sort of mastery of the work you're doing, proficiency and the work you're doing. And of course, there's still plenty of room for improvement. But you have a really, really solid foundation that you can start to build on. And it takes time. Takes a lot of time. 

Kushal: I'm pretty sure a lot of sales leaders are thinking right now. Oh my God, Kyle, you know, you're killing me, 12 weeks on onboarding someone, but I see the virtue. And I'm sure a lot of leaders as well SDRs themselves will see the virtue of what you're saying. Because you're right, it really does take quite a bit of time to kind of understand the company, the customers, the tools, the skills, everything that you really need to do your job well. And like you said, it's about getting into that comfort zone and kind of knowing and developing that confidence really of doing that job well versus, you know, just working the phones, just sending emails, just sending, you know, video links, developing that overall confidence.

Kyle Coleman: We don't hire people to just hit dial and then hit dial again, we hire people who have brains, and we want to teach them how to think. And so that's a lot of what our onboarding is. And I don't mean to say that that 8 to 12 weeks, they're not productive, of course, they're productive. They're doing a lot of the work. It's just ramped productivity on the path to full productivity. So sales leaders out there, I'm sorry to scare you. But you know, I'm talking about like operating at 60 to 80% of full capacity, not zero. So take the time to develop the skills to make sure that your team knows how to think and really understands a process well enough to make it their own, to change it, to evolve the process. If you're hiring people just to come in and follow a playbook that never changes, you're gonna die, like that is a recipe for failure. So the evolution comes from the people doing the job. And if you train them how to operate within a framework, how to think about their role and how to change that process, evolve that process in a useful direction, that's the key to sustained excellence.

Kushal: That sounds like an excellent point, really, Kyle, that you know, you really want your SDRs, you know, your entire team really to be able to kind of take on what you've already built, and really kind of tweak it, change it, adapt it to what's really working in the market, there's so many newer techniques, platforms that are coming up every day. Prospects are getting bombarded with so much today. So what worked a couple of years, maybe even months before is probably not going to cut it today. So you kind of need to be on the frontlines. And I think that part about really getting feedback from the frontlines, and allowing people to really kind of change the playbook, keep on tweaking it to making it better, I think that's super key. I can see as a prospect, even myself who gets prospected, I can see how that would make a major difference as well. 

Kyle, just going a little bit, what do you think is really the best way to be motivating, you know, your SDRs and your sales team? What do you think they respond the best to? Is it you know, immediate shoutouts for, you know, jobs well done? You know, is it celebrations every time someone closes a deal, you know, is it a great comp package that you know, you kind of upgrade as soon as you can? What do you think works best?

Kyle Coleman: It's a really good question. And it depends, again, I'm sorry to keep the answer here. But it depends on the individual from a recognition and praise standpoint. Some people like public praise, some people prefer it in private. Ask them, ask them. You know, hey, when you do a good job, and this is one of your first one on ones with them, “When you do a good job, how do you want me to celebrate that? Do you want that to be in a team meeting? Do you want that to be in a Slack channel? Do you want that to be in a one on one? How do you want it because I'm going to celebrate you in some way?” And I want to make sure that I do it in the right way for you. So ask them about praise. 

Now, with respect to that kind of motivation, broader motivation, the SDR job is really hard, as previously discussed, I don't think that's up for debate. The thing that I think keeps people motivated is the light at the end of the tunnel, they have to see that there is a pathway for growth for them. And growth does not necessarily mean promotion, although many times it does, it means being continually challenged, but also continually fulfilled in the work that they're doing. And so what you as an SDR leader and really, of any leader of any team have to make sure that you're doing is keeping a really close finger on the pulse of what experiences does this person want or need to feel challenged and fulfilled? And again, secret here, ask them what do you want? Many SDRs, I should say go into sales and many don’t. Some people are more interested in operations or marketing or customer success or deal desk or whatever. And you have to find a way to give them exposure to those things, so that they understand what options they have. And then you could design a growth path for them. That's giving them exposure, giving them new experiences, keeping them challenged and fulfilled. And then ultimately, if all goes well, promoting them into that new role. So make sure that everybody always sees that light at the end of the tunnel because some weeks are terrible as an SDR, nothing works for you. And you're really down. But if you have that long term goal in mind that says, if I put in the effort, if I do my job the right way, if I work with my colleagues the right way, it's in service of this long term goal. And I know I'm gonna get there in 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, whatever that is. And if that goal is always there, as like this beacon that they're driving toward, it gives more meaning to their work. It's not just about getting the meetings. Yes, that's a great feeling. It's not just about creating pipeline, although that is fundamental to a company's success. It's about personal growth. And if that is if that is the main goal that your team knows, you're always about, they're always motivated. So way easier said than done. But it's a shift of focus that's really more about the individuals, and knowing and trusting that if you focus this way, the results will come.

Kushal: So what you're saying, Kyle, it really sounds like you actually have to care about your SDRs versus treating them as another piece of the machinery to kind of you know, keep your revenue up? Do you think people think of it in that way? What do you see across the industry?

Kyle Coleman: Unfortunately, yes, I think that a lot of sales and just in general and SDR leaders view their people as numbers on a dashboard instead of people. And that's a huge mistake. Like if you ever lose sight of the fact that these are people, that they're not replaceable. They're not just cogs in the machine. They are people that have different ways of thinking, different goals, different ways to stay motivated, different aspirations. Like if you lose sight of that you are in major, major trouble. And it just becomes heartless, it becomes soulless. People don't care as much about the work that they do because they feel disconnected from the leadership. They feel disconnected from the company as a result. So I think a lot of companies, unfortunately, get too focused on the metrics and lose sight of the people and it's to their detriment.

Kushal: Since we're talking about you know, motivating your team, etc. I know a while ago, everyone was talking about the great resignation in sales but even otherwise, where people really were rethinking how they could work, where they could work from and really what they wanted to do in that world. I know a lot of sales leaders were increasingly talking about, you know how easy or difficult it was to kind of retain their existing talent and not kind of have it leave them go somewhere else, a better place, maybe remote, whatever their motivations are. How to sort of view that and what have your own experiences been through all of this?

Kyle Coleman: People leave companies when they don't feel like their company cares about them. And they don't feel like their, their leadership cares about them. And of course, there's compensation reasons, and it's more nuanced than that. And the sales market in particular is very hot right now. And offers are, you know, there can be some pretty attractive offers. And people skate toward that and you know, more power to them. We lost zero people on our SDR team, and we promoted 11 in the last 12 months, and it's because of this…

Kushal: Where I can sign up?

Kyle Coleman: Clari.com It's because of this philosophy and it's because our director of SDR, a guy named Alex, he shares the same exact philosophy as what we've been talking about today. He cares so much about the people on the team, and he works tirelessly on their behalf to make them successful in their role, but also to get them off the team. And it's these diametrically opposed things that is so hard as an SDR leader where you want your people to be the best, and you want your best people to leave the team and graduate into something else in the company. And it's something that myself and Alex and the rest of our leadership team take tremendous pride in is the SDR team is the bench of talent for the rest of the company. We want people to move into AE roles to, to marketing, to customer success and then we have people. People infiltrated all across the business as a result. And that is a really, really good feeling. Hitting your pipeline numbers feels really good. Graduating people and looking at our little slide of SDR graduates where you can barely see people's faces anymore, because there's so many of them, that's a better feeling. So that's what we try and chase and really that is, that philosophy, that mindset is what leads to retention.

Kushal: I kind of just curious, for a lot of folks SDRs sit within the sales function, for some folks, they fit within the marketing function. How do you view this question of you know, which team SDRs really belong with, and you know, what works best in your experience?

Kyle Coleman: So I have the unique experience of having been at a super small company that grew, I was again, six employee that grew up to about 800, by the time I left, so I've seen a few different stages of growth. I've never been at an enormous, you know, 50,000 person company, so I don't have that purview. What I can say is that when my previous company was super small, it was a huge benefit to be a part of the marketing team. For the reasons that we already discussed. I was sort of the front lines for marketing messaging. And I was working very closely with contractors that were doing product marketing and website because sort of landing page copy and event marketing and all that sort of thing. And we're working really closely together to hone that message, to understand who our ideal customer profile was, to understand who our personas were, and what they care about what's most top of mind. And so as we kind of figured a lot of that out, and the primary goal was to get as many at bats for our sales team as possible was all about meetings, it was all about learning our that… getting that learning loop going between sales and marketing, that was huge to be joined at the hip with marketing. 

As we grew, maybe when we were about 150 or 200 employees, somewhere in there, we made a shift from quantity as the main goal. We learned, we know now we feel really good about our messaging. Now we need to focus on efficiency. And efficiency comes from quality. So we don't want to just throw everything over the fence on our sales team. But now we know ICP, we know personas, we have some good qualification criteria, we have a good SDR team. Now, we need to work more closely with our sales team to make sure that that quality is really being hit as much as possible. And that we're getting as setting our sales team up for success with the right kinds of meetings, the right kinds of opportunities. So that was a shift from meetings at the early part to opportunities and the later in the later part. And so I see both working, I think there's a time for both. At Clari, we report into sales because we want to maintain this closeness with our AEs, we work in lockstep on account plans, and outreach strategies and all those sorts of things. And just having that really tight relationship with sales is extremely important. And our primary success metric is pipeline, qualified opportunities and pipeline. And that is what our sales team cares the most about. And finally, our most common promotion path is to a sales role. And so it's really useful for myself to have a closer relationship with our CRO with our SVP of sales and all those types of people that can just make sure that that promotion path is always on.

Kushal: Kyle, I think that's super useful for a lot of folks who are thinking about you know, increasingly how to structure their teams, especially when that sort of building up the team from the ground up. So I think that's going to be super useful advice for everyone. Kyle, just kind of stepping back a little bit you know, to you and you know, what you've learned along the way, what's maybe some advice that you would be giving to your younger self from now?

Kyle Coleman: Oh man, this is one I think about actually quite a bit. And I think with the benefit of retrospect, it's what the advice that I would give people right now is appreciate the work that you're doing. Take a step, slow down for a minute and look around and really realize, as an SDR, you are getting so much exposure to a world of marketing, you're getting so much exposure to the world of sales, you are building this really deep understanding of a lot of these go to market things that many, many other roles don't get. You're developing this fluency of language to be able to understand marketing metrics and what matters, MQLs and SQLs, and top of funnel awareness, SEO, all this stuff, you're getting that exposure, but also sales, pipeline coverage and ratios and qualified opportunities, call criteria, sales process, methodology, all these things, you're getting this dual exposure, and you're building this really, really solid foundation for success. So appreciate it. No, the work is not always easy. It wouldn't be fun if it was always easy, it's challenging, and it's rewarding for that reason. So relish that fact, understand that the work you're doing now is creating this foundation that you're going to leverage for the rest of your career and appreciate it like really, really appreciate it. That would be my advice to my younger self.

Kushal: I think that's pretty amazing. I think a lot of SDRs and a lot of younger folks really do, folks, everyone, I think a lot of us can kind of do with a more positive attitude, especially when it comes to challenges. Growth is never easy. Like you said, it comes with its fair set of challenges. So I think kind of having the right mindset really about it, and maybe not taking it too seriously in the moment as well will kind of help you, you know, smoothen over some of those things as well. 

We're open to questions, by the way, folks, in case you'd like to ask Kyle something as we have a couple of minutes. So if there's something you'd like to ask, I'll just pop it into the LinkedIn chat and I will go over and check on it. In the meantime, Kyle, I'd love to kind of play this fun segment with you, which is called wrong meanings only. So I'm gonna throw some words at you. I’d love to hear what those wrong meanings only would be for you. And this could be sarcastic, funny, real, whatever that is, but wrong meanings. So the first one, if you're ready for this?

Kyle Coleman: I’m ready.

Kushal: Is “Sales Coaching”.

Kyle Coleman: Sales coaching, wrong meaning of sales coaching is berating people for what they did wrong. That is not the right way to do sales coaching. The right way to do sales coaching is inquisitive, ask them questions about why they said something or phrase something or the way they did or why they wrote something the way they did, understand the thought process and try and correct the thought process. Don't try and just create a miniature version of yourself. That is the wrong meaning of sales coaching, don't just yell at people for not doing something the way you would have done something, that is not productive. Really, really try and coach them how to think, how to act, how to behave. And if you can focus on that. That is the right meaning

Kushal: Got it. I think we love that. Here's another one “Cold Calling”.

Kyle Coleman: Cold calling is not telemarketing. That is the wrong meaning of cold calling, cold calling is… gets a bad rap. Because a lot of people don't aren't as thoughtful about it as they should be. I like to think of cold calling, or the first step to cold calling is manufacturing more, connect with that person on LinkedIn, understand what's going on in the world, do some research on them or their account, and then you're not cold calling, all of a sudden you have a perspective on them, their company, whatever it is, and your warm calling, you have an actual reason for reaching out, you're confident that your solution can help them and you're not telemarketing, you're introducing them to a solution that you would genuinely believe can help them. If that's your mindset, that's not cold calling. 

Kushal: Got it. Okay, so Will Morrison, when building a BDR playbook from scratch, how would you prioritize what projects to tackle first? This is for a BDR playbook, that's a whole other episode, but what would your answer be?

Kyle Coleman: It's really hard. I think that, well the thing that I would focus on first is really understanding who your personas are. And then this framework that I think about it is the pains that they experience, and the gains they realize from using your platform. So really, really understand the day to day work they do you know, month over month metrics maybe that they're responsible for and what is painful for them about doing that work or realizing those metrics, what is holding them back. And if you can get kind of six to eight main pain points that that person cares about. And then you can position your solution as solve for those pains, you're creating a framework that is extensible to cold calling and to emailing and video messaging and all the outreach that you'll ever need to do. So pains and gains as a first step for building out an SDR program. Foundational not the sexiest thing in the world, but super, super important.

Kushal: Yeah, I think most of you know the important things aren't sexy work. It's a lot of ground work. It's lot ground but that needs to be done. Do you have time to have one last question, Kyle?

Kyle Coleman: One more, let's do it.

Kushal: Awesome. So Vishnu at Nooks asked a question, Hey, Kushal and Kyle, what are your thoughts on team call blitzes being a solid silver bullet for coaching, motivating and hitting more activity. Team call blitzes, how do we feel about that?

Kyle Coleman: Love it. Absolutely love it, Vishnu. It's so good for camaraderie. It's so good for, as you mentioned earlier, Kushal, like don't take it too seriously. If you're alone on a call, and somebody is super rude to you, it's demoralizing. Like, it's sad. But if you're in a team call and somebody's super rude to you, it is hilarious like people laugh, you forget that you don't lose sight of the fact that you know, we're not out here curing cancer. You know, we're out here selling software. And people that are rude, it's a reflection of them. It's not a reflection of you. And having that team call Blitzes, great for activity, great for camaraderie, great for team culture, great for metrics, all of that, but really great for mindset and that's huge. So big proponent of Team conferences.

Kushal: Great stuff, Kyle. Thank you so much for taking these questions and going a little bit over time and really for sharing very openly and, you know, everything you stand for and that you think about building up your SDR team. Really appreciate your time today with us.

Kyle Coleman: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much.

Kushal: Thank you, Kyle.

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