SDR Retention Problem? Read This.

It is one of the most hotly contested and debated topics in the B2B sales domain;

What to do with SDRs as they progress in their careers?

What I tend to see a lot of people hypothesizing is to try to remove the stigma of the job being “entry level” in order to retain talent.  Useless.  People know when you’re pulling the wool over their eyes.

Another thing I have seen is recommending that organizations have systemic programs designed to guide an SDR through the various career avenues available to them.  Stupid.  And a waste of time and money (I realize the redundancy there).

As an aside, where the hell has the concept of personal responsibility gone?  Millennials (and I’m one of them) get a bad rap, but this is definitely a knock that seems justified.  There’s this gross expectation that an organization is responsible in hand holding an employee through their career journey.  I couldn’t hate that mentality any more.  Be an adult.

Back to the topic at hand…if an SDR is dead-set on becoming a field sales rep/AE (easiest outcome), all is well.  If a company can’t handle that scenario, it should just pack up right now.

The issues arise when an SDR does NOT want to pursue a field sales role.  For sure, this is a challenge and can result in a few major outcomes:

1.     The SDR leaves (incredibly common)

2.     The SDR moves into a different dept within the company

3.     The SDR wants to stay on as a high producer, but yearns for more responsibility and optics


Options 1 and 2 are pretty straight-forward. 

Option 3 requires a nuanced approach.  Retaining a top producing SDR is great for business.  They’re invaluable to the sales process and aren’t crazy expensive.  Not only is this option good for an organization, I’ve always maintained that being at the top of your game as an employee can be incredibly rewarding.

So what can you do for Option 3ers?  Well first, here’s what you can do at the top level:

1.     SDR Promotion to Player/Coach or Manager – Giving an SDR management responsibilities over junior SDRs is a great next step and is typically received very well.

2.     Additional Territory – While this doesn’t usually satiate the demand for more responsibility, it is worth exploring and usually is the easiest to implement.

3.     SDR Ambassador – Alright, you don’t have to use the name.  But socialize the “promotion” and give this individual key responsibilities (can evolve over time based on your needs) such as:

a.     Point person on SDR hiring (firm or group) and recruiting

b.     Liaison between Sales, Marketing and Operations to ensure streamlined SDR processes (CRM, emails, standard client gifts/communications, etc.)

c.     Event coordinator – Works with Marketing on event planning, including conference attendance and client/prospect networking events

d.     Training Oversight – Internal and external coordination of training sessions for SDRs

e.     SDR Top Performer Club – Design and implement (or refine) a top performer’s club for SDRs (can also organize ad-hoc competitions)


These three options embolden the SDR with more responsibility, which should be paired with a title change and/or comp increase.

BUT, while these three will add layers to help retain SDR talent, the more important answer is far simpler:




When I hear someone say that their company isn’t doing a good job providing options for career advancement, I think “loser”.  Go and get it.  Or create it.

When I hear someone say that their manager doesn’t give a crap about furthering their career, I think “leave”.  It’s the entire reason of existence for a manager. 

A great manager finds out what their employees want to achieve personally and professionally, then helps them get there from a professional capacity.

So, my final recommendation to retaining great SDRs is to scrutinize your existing management, fire the weak links (which top performing SDRs will absolutely appreciate), fill the gaps, then train that staff like there’s no tomorrow. 

Great managers are worth their weight in gold because of the ripple effect they can have.  Don’t poison the well.


I’ll try to refrain from picking songs that have some correlation to the topic, like for example The Jeffersons theme song here because “moving on up”.

This week may be one of my favorite songs I’ve listened to in the past 5 years. No way this doesn’t get you movin. Song is “No Good” by Kaleo.

Dion Travagliante