Successfully recruiting and hiring a new business development reps (BDRs) can be quite the challenge. BDRs might be easier to hire than engineers, but it's extremely difficult to predict their success. Don't be fooled, though: Hiring the right BDR candidates is a crucial component to your sales team's long-term success. BDRs often shape the culture of your sales team and are responsible for generating the pipeline that your quota-carrying reps need. That's a lot of responsibility! Not to mention, if all goes to plan these hires will be on the front lines some time over the next 15-24 months. Now, factor in that these crucial hires often have less than 2 years experience in the real world. Scary thought.
So how do you hire great BDRs? Short answer is you DON’T. You hire good people and it’s up to your team to make that employee great. The most common attribute of a successful BDR is having a competitive mentality. If you need to motivate this person to pick up the phones and get creative with cold emails they probably won’t last too long. One of the key questions you should ask in the interview process is: "Where do you see yourself in 2-3 years?"
It’s amazing to me how many BDRs do not see themselves as sales professionals for the long haul. This is a big red flag. The answer that excites me is, “I want to be the top sales rep in the organization.”
Most BDRs come in two flavors: Previous sales experience and no sales experience. If they've had sales experience before, remember: A successful rep at one company does not automatically make a successful rep at another. Make sure they're a fit for your team.
More often, BDR candidates are recent graduates and don't have a track record of professional success. In either scenario, get to understand if they are winners and risk takers. Winning can be a conference championship in college baseball or it can be winning a business case competition -- it doesn't always have to be tied to the highest commission. Maybe your candidate was the founder of a club, which taught them how to motivate people and buy into a cause.
A lot of sales organizations prefer students that attended top universities. In my experience, the person who did great things at a state school or a lesser known institution might have that chip on their shoulder that a great BDR needs. Don't rule someone out based on their education. Performance on the sales floor is far different than GPA or college pedigree.
So if there are no great BDRs, how do you get them there? First, have a structured mentorship program. It is extremely important to getting the most value from BDRs and giving them a goal to strive towards. Give BDRs a senior rep or someone they book meetings for, so that person has a vested interest in their success.
Mentors should start by asking BDRs their goals. A simple, "Where do you want to be and what do you want to achieve?" goes a long way. It’s then the job of the mentor to assemble a playbook of how to get that BDR there. The most successful mentorships balance give-and-get.
You'll also need to get your new hire up to speed with tools, technologies, methodology and a weekly game plan -- fast. Mentors, managers or sales trainers can lead the charge here, but make sure you have a standard sales process, playbook, and daily routine in place for every BDR.
It seems obvious but, in reality being a BDR is a stepping stone and if BDRs can't see their next step, that’s when your entire program is in jeopardy. One unhappy BDR has the potential to corrupt the entire bunch. Being a BDR is not an easy gig. There are lots of ups and downs. Make sure they have someone they can come to (you) and that they can see the path. Keep them happy.
One of the best ways to source new hires is by asking happy BDRs to refer their classmates and friends. That college softball star might have a driven teammate looking for her first gig out of college. Maybe the BDR you hired from that big company down the street knows a few former colleagues who are getting antsy there. As a recruiter or hiring manager of BDRs, ask your team monthly who they know!