You’ve built a great product and you’ve hired your first sales reps. Now that you’re generating some real revenue, it’s time to take your sales team to the next level: building out your sales development team.

The Bridge Group’s 2014 survey of 222 B2B tech companies found that 27% of sales leaders stated one of their biggest challenges is recruiting and hiring sales development representatives (SDRs).

Let’s take a look at the numbers to figure out how to best hire SDRs for your company.

How many SDRs do you need to hire?

The Bridge Group’s survey found the average ratio of SDRs to account executives (AEs) is 1 to 3.9.

Average SDR to AE ratio: 1 to 3.9

(Source: The Bridge Group)

So for most companies, there are many fewer SDRs than full sales reps. Their survey found that the majority of companies’ SDRs were outbound prospecting vs. a small percentage of inbound SDRs.

  • 19% are exclusively or mostly inbound SDRs
  • 65% are exclusively or mostly outbound SDRs

inbound prospecting vs. outbound prospecting SDRs

Other sales experts like Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft, recommends a more equal ratio of SDRs to sales reps.

His advice is based on the numbers you need for an account executive to win a certain percentage of opportunities: the number of SDRs you need equals the number of daily meetings you need booked for all account executives divided by the number of daily demos booked per SDR. In SalesLoft’s case, an SDR is capable of setting up 2 to 4 demos per day, averaging around 2 per day.

Approximate SDR to AE ratio: 1 to 1

(Source: Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft)

For companies with a more equal SDR to AE ratio, they are probably heavily relying on outbound prospecting and/or their AEs are not doing as much prospecting themselves, if any.

How much experience should an SDR have?

In general, the amount of previous sales experience companies look for when hiring an SDR is low. The Bridge Group found SDRs had on average nearly 2 years of previous sales experience with 28% of SDRs having less than one year of prior sales experience. On the other hand, The Bridge Group found that the prior sales experience required increased as the average sales price increased.

 Average pre-hire sales experience for an SDR: 1.8 years

(Source: The Bridge Group)

required sales experience for SDRs by ASP

How much should you pay an SDR?

The Bridge Group’s survey found that SDRs were compensated on average with a 64% base salary and 36% variable compensation split. They also found that compensation correlated with prior sales experience: SDRs with less than one year of sales experience earned 15% below the average, whereas SDRs with more than three years of sales experience earned 16% above the average.

Average base salary for an SDR: $46K

Average OTE for an SDR: $72K

(Source: The Bridge Group)

Similarly, insidesales.com uses a 65% and 35% split between base pay and variable compensation for their inbound SDRs. However, their outbound SDRs are compensated with a 40% base salary and 60% variable compensation split.

Average salary split for an SDR: 64% base & 36% variable

(Source: The Bridge Group)

Salary split for an outbound SDR: 40% base & 60% variable

(Source: insidesales.com)

Insidesales.com’s variable compensation is based on:

  • 90% on the number of qualified opportunities from the appointments set
  • 5% on the bookings’ value from the appointments set
  • 5% on effort such as the number of dials

In terms of spiffs, The Bridge Group found the most popular ones for SDRs include:

  • monetary prizes
  • time off
  • team-based/team events

 How long does it take an SDR to ramp up?

Because an SDR’s ramp up time is going to depend on several factors including the length of your training process, ramp up time is going to vary a lot across companies. According to The Bridge Group’s latest numbers, the average ramp time for an SDR (3.8 months) is slightly lower than the ramp up time for an AE (4.4 months).

Average ramp up for an SDR: 3.8 months

(Source: The Bridge Group)

ramp up time for SDRs

Insidesales.com found that providing even just a small amount of coaching to their SDRs cut their ramp up time by 50%: just three hours a month of sales coaching cut a SDR’s ramp up time from four months to two months.

Average ramp up for an SDR with 3 hrs of coaching: 2 months

(Source: insidesales.com)

They also found this small amount of monthly coaching increased quota attainment by 17%.

Which metrics/quotas should an SDR achieve?

The Bridge Group’s survey found that on average, 66% of SDRs attained their quota. The bottom 20% of SDRs averaged 60% of their goals while the top 20% of SDRs averaged 158% of their goals.

Activities:

  • Average number of dials per day: 52
  • Average number of conversations per day: 8
  • Average number of attempts per prospect: 7.3

(Source: The Bridge Group)

dials and connects for inbound vs. outbound SDRs

According to data from insidesales.com, the minimum number of attempts to maximize your changes of making contact with prospects is 6.

number of call attempts for an SDR to reach a prospect

 Quotas:

  • Average quota for appointments set per month: 20
  • Average quota for appointments converted per month: 8
  • Average quota for opportunities passed per month: 8
  • Average quota for opportunities accepted per month: 6

(Source: The Bridge Group)

For the SDRs at insidesales.com, these numbers are significantly higher.

  • Quota for qualified opportunities per month for inbound: 35 to 45
  • Quota for qualified opportunities per month for outbound: 8 to 12

When should SDRs make calls and follow ups?

Insidesales.com’s research found that for inbound leads, the best days of the week for the SDRs to follow up are Wednesdays and Thursdays.

best days for SDRs to contact prospects

They found that qualification rates are 164% higher when leads are called at a good time versus a bad time. The best times to contact a lead are between 8 and 9am or 4 and 5pm and the worst time of day to attempt contact is during the lunch hour (12 to 1pm).

best times of the day for SDRs to contact prospects

Insidesales.com found the optimal timeframe for an SDR to respond after a prospect completes a web signup form is within 5 minutes.

SDRs should contact web form leads within 5 minutes of sign up

Speed matters because 78% of B2B sales go to the first company to respond to a prospect.

How long does an average SDR stay?

In general, an SDR is considered an entry-level sales position. This means that the average tenure of an SDR tends to be short because in the best case scenario, you’re promoting your productive SDRs into full AEs as soon as you can.

Average tenure for an SDR: 2.2 years

(Source: The Bridge Group)

average tenure of SDRs

The bottom line: Hiring the right SDRs matters

The Bridge Group found that on average, 45% of company revenues are sourced by SDRs. That’s a lot! One of the biggest factors in building a sales development team that’s happy and productive is making sure you’re using the right tools to hire the right people for your company in the first place.

What have you found works best for hiring SDRs? Let me know in the comments or tweet @recruit_smarter.

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Ji-A Min

Ji-A Min

Head Data Scientist at Ideal
Ji-A Min is the Head Data Scientist at Ideal. With a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ji-A promotes best practices and data-based HR. She writes about trends and research in talent acquisition, people analytics, and workplace diversity.
Ji-A Min