The Insider Perspective: SDR Challenges and Realities in B2B Sales

Sales development representatives (SDRs), or business development representatives (BDRs), make up the sales force that ensures you never run out of new business opportunities. They represent your company and are responsible for prospecting and securing appointments

Although, what do we really know about SDRs? The job is essential for sales and can be challenging; it requires a certain mindset and has a lot of components.

But there are still a lot of open-ended questions: Do SDRs hate cold calling? What do they consider to be the most effective outreach channel or strategy? How do they deal with rejections? And how do they relax?  

We’ve decided to seek out these answers by going directly to the source—the SDRs themselves.

The SDR Craft: A CIENCE Survey 

Our survey was conducted among 210 SDRs working in the B2B sector all over the globe. We asked fourteen top questions about their experiences as SDRs. Here's what they had to say:

Question 1. What outreach channel do you consider to be the most effective? 

Some experts tend to favor one outreach channel over the other and make loud claims that emails are not that effective or that cold calling is dead.

Our survey shows that most (58.4%) of the SDRs prefer multichannel outreach that includes email, phone, and social media outreach. 26.8% think email alone is a great outreach channel and some also pointed out that advertisements can be a great addition to your multichannel efforts. 

“Ads may not be stars of the show, but they are that type of passive engagement that can be of great support for the multichannel outreach. When done properly, they enhance your prospecting efforts and keep your brand fresh and recognizable.” —Anonymous SDR Survey Respondent

Most Effective Outreach Channels

Question 2.  What SDR outreach practice do you find the most effective?

Among the options of personalization, interactive content, multichannel prospecting, and responding to prospects within fifteen minutes, personalization took the lead with 21.5% of votes. Although the majority of SDRs (45.5%) consider the mix of the above to be the best outreach practice of all. 

Most Effective SDR Outreach Practice

Question 3.  Which part of the job do you find the most motivating? 

The SDR job can be a tough nut to crack but it has a list of benefits as well. We wanted to know which ones are the most important for modern SDRs. Continuous learning experience (34.4%) and financial compensation (33%) are leading the chart. 11.5% also state that acknowledgment of their achievements by colleagues or senior staff is very motivating. 

Most Motivating Parts of the SDR Job

Question 4. What is the most challenging part of the SDR’s everyday workflow?

Research and personalization come in a tie with handling objections or rejections, each scoring 30.1% of votes. Among the other challenges mentioned by SDRs were difficulties handling CRM, time management, following up, not getting responses at all, having bad data, lack of time, and some tasks that are done manually when they can be automated

Most Motivating Parts of the SDR Workflow

Question 5. When are you most productive during the day? 

More than half of surveyed SDRs stated that the peak of their productivity happens between eight in the morning and one in the afternoon. 

Rate of SDR Productivity During the Day

Question 6. What is your go-to way to unload after a hard day at work? 

To avoid burnout, it is important to take some pressure off and do something for yourself. The top three ways to do so among our SDRs are exercising (25.4%), going for a walk (18.7%), and listening to music (13.9%). Among the other activities, SDRs suggested sleeping, spending time with the family, cleaning, writing songs, showering, going for a drink, and even crocheting.  

Top Ways SDRs Unwind after Work

Question 7. Do sales rejections upset you? 

The majority of SDRs (71.8%) stated that rejections do not upset them. 

Percentage of SDRs Upset by Sales Rejections

Question 8. How would you characterize most of your interactions with prospects?

Interacting with prospects can seem daunting if you think that they will be angry with you for contacting them. Our SDRs bust this myth by describing most of their interactions as neutral (65.6%) or positive (22%). 

Percentage of Top SDR Interactions with Prospects

Question 9.  What is the most valuable skill for an SDR? 

When hiring SDRs, many recruiters ask themselves what it takes to be a good SDR. Top three skills named by our respondents were adaptability (34.4%), positive attitude (25.8%), and resilience (23%). 

Top Skills for SDRs

Question 10.  Do you consider an SDR job to be a promising career path?

The majority of respondents (80.4%) said that they consider an SDR job to be a promising career path. 

The SDR Job a Promising Career Path

Question 11.  What is your preferable next step after being an SDR? 

Based on the previous question, we asked SDRs to share their future career plans. Most respondents (57.9%) see themselves growing to a senior-level SDR and then to a management position. 

Preferable Next Steps as an SDR

Question 12.  How did the pandemic affect prospecting? 

The pandemic has changed how we approach things, so we’ve asked SDRs if they noticed any changes in the process of prospecting. The votes were divided: About 40% claim that it became more challenging, the other 40% didn’t notice any feasible difference, and about 20% feel that prospecting got easier. 

Assessment of Prospecting During Pandemic

Question 13.  What challenges did you face working from home since the beginning of the pandemic?

Work from home (WFH) takes some adjusting to do, and some employers saw that it can create some challenges. However, more than half of SDRs (51.2%) said that they had no challenges connected to remote work. Others stated that they’ve noticed a sense of isolation, inability to unplug, performance anxiety, irritation over an unstable internet connection, struggle to find the optimum routine, and felt less connected to their colleagues. 

Top Challenges SDR Faced During the Pandemic

Question 14.  Did you meet your sales goals in 2021? 

Almost all of the SDRs feel they’ve met their goals last year; only 9.1% feel like they didn’t. 

SDR Sales Goals Met in 2021

SDR Survey: Key Takeaways

Based on our survey research, here’s what we discovered: 

  • Multichannel outreach that includes email, phone, and social media is the most effective combination of outreach channels.
  • The most effective outreach practice is the mix of personalization, interactive content, quick responses, and multichannel prospecting.
  • A continuous learning experience and financial compensation are two aspects of the job SDRs find the most motivating.
  • The most challenging parts of the SDR job are researching prospects, creating personalization based on that research, and handling objections or rejections.
  • 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. is considered to be the time of most extensive productivity for most SDRs.
  • The best way to relieve stress after a long day is to exercise.
  • SDRs consider rejections part of the job and are okay with them happening from time to time.
  • Most prospect interactions are neutral.
  • The most valuable skill for SDRs is adaptability.
  • The majority of SDRs consider their jobs to be a promising start of a career.
  • The preferable next career step for most SDRs is becoming a senior SDR or a manager.
  • 39.2% think that prospecting has become more challenging since the start of the pandemics.
  • Most SDRs didn’t face any challenges working from home.
  • The majority of the SDRs met their sales goals in 2021 either fully or partially. 

SDR Survey Participants: Demographics 

Our survey consisted of 210 SDRs in locations all over the globe. While some of the participants occupy the title “SDR,” some have more specific roles as SDR callers, messaging specialists, or team leads. This is based on the sales specialization principle that narrows down the role of an SDR to their primary activity. 

SDR Job Title Breakdown

Survey Participants

Since a large number of employees at CIENCE are connected to the SDR craft, we made sure to get their feedback yet opened the survey outside the organization as well. 

SDR Survey Respondents by Company

Demographic Breakdown: Location

The majority of answers came from our team in Mexico, but we also had a lot of entries from the U.S., Ukraine, and the Philippines. 

SDR Demographic Breakdown by Location

Demographic Breakdown: Gender

Based on survey results, we found that gender equality seems to be trending in the SDR industry.

SDR Demographic Breakdown by Gender

Demographic Breakdown: Age

The age of our participants varied from 18 to 60.

SDR Demographic Breakdown by Age

Years of SDR Experience

Most of our respondents were in their twenties with up to a year of experience, indicating that the SDR position may be a good launching point for a career in the sales industry.

Years of SDR Experience

Treat Your SDRs Right

The data that we’ve gathered from this survey disproved a couple of myths, shed some light on the SDR craft, and most importantly, showed that some inconveniences they may face are solvable.

  • Maximize automation. A good CRM or a bunch of automation data tools can save time that is spent on manual tasks and open more opportunities for personalization and quick responses.
  • Invest in SDRs. Extensive training and appreciation of their work are two things that motivate SDRs the most. Investing in this may bring you the results you’ve waited for.
  • Value SDRs. Giving them time to relax and value their work-life balance is crucial. If you see the first signs of burnout, encourage them to take a walk or relax a bit. Providing them flexibility in their daily workflow will also encourage creativity and improve productivity. 

Hopefully, the information we’ve discovered in this survey will not only help to understand your SDRs better but will also open a new chapter in your B2B sales prospecting efforts. 

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