How to Effectively Transition SDRs to AEs

Let’s face it: working in sales development is a grind. Though sales managers may come across the rare SDR with a true passion for the role, most SDRs take on a sales development role with an eye towards some future role: sales management, sales enablement, or account executive.

When it comes to transitioning your SDRs to the role of account executives, there are several schools of thought on what approach you can take. Truth is, any approach may be right for you or your company.

Below, we break down three prominent perspectives on how to transition SDRs to AEs and offer the pros and cons of each.

Approach 1: Don’t Do It

Among the most controversial perspectives on this issue is the idea that sales managers just should not promote SDRs to AEs. This school of thought suggests sales managers should hire SDRs to be SDRs and hire AEs to be AEs. Why? Specialization.

While there are some overlapping skill sets inherent to any sales role, the skills required for an SDR are fairly diverse from those required for an AE. If your sales organization is big enough to split these functions out into separate roles, why not focus on hiring SDRs that actually want to be SDRs?

Pros to This Approach

  • Simplify and specialize your hiring, training, and professional development processes

  • Weed out any SDRs that just want an “in” to your team or company

  • Increase focus and set clear expectations for your SDR team

Cons to This Approach

  • You may inadvertently discourage learning and cross functional collaboration

  • Risk losing your best SDRs as they venture to become AEs elsewhere

  • You may protract your hiring timelines

Best approach for: larger sales organizations; sales organizations with clear career development plans; companies with complex sales processes.

Approach 2: Use Account Development Reps as an Intermediary

Look no further than a simple Google search if you want to find all the pitfalls of promoting your SDRs to AEs – you’ll find article-after-article detailing the failure rates for SDRs in newly minted AE positions.

If your organization is committed to allowing SDRs to become AEs, try an intermediary step with the account development rep role. This role requires that the ADR work together with the AE to gain a better understanding of each account, build sales rapport and develop relationships over time, and find new opportunities within existing accounts – all skills that can greatly help in the transition from SDR to AE.

Pros to This Approach

  • Allows you to promote your best reps slowly and with proper training

  • Allows you to set clear expectations and goals for your SDRs to develop

  • Creates more teamwork and collaboration between SDRs and Aes

Cons to This Approach

  • May not work for simpler sales processes or products

  • Creates more complexity through the addition of a third sales role, the ADR role

  • Can be an additional drain on your AEs time

Best approach for: Companies with strong sales leadership organizations; companies that address complex markets or offer complex solutions; companies that can sell into multiple departments within a single buyer.

Approach 3: Stick to the Timelines

There is one perspective most discussions on this topic share: transitioning your SDRs to AEs too quickly is a recipe for disaster and failure. Thus, if your organization is intent on allowing SDRs to transition directly to the AE role, follow two recommended timelines.

First, require that your SDRs serve in that role for at least 18 months.

Second, build in at least six months of transition time that allows your transitioning SDR the opportunity to shadow complex deals, manage smaller deals on their own, and develop their skills as an AE before transitioning them immediately into this new role.

Pros to This Approach

  • Works for any company size or product

  • Provides enough transition time to spot potential weaknesses and address them through additional training

  • Allows you to hire more well-rounded SDRs

 Cons to This Approach

  • Takes time and energy away from your SDRs, existing AEs, and sales managers

  • Does not guarantee the SDR will be successful once fully transitioned

  • Requires a good deal of training and organization during the transition period

Best approach for: Companies of all sizes, any kind of product.

Nova is the world’s leading personalized selling platform, empowering sales and marketing teams with AI-powered email personalization, predictive intelligence tools, and software-based coaching.


Published On: April 11th, 2018Categories: Blog News, Job Search and Career

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