How to ramp up an SDR in 3 days

At Cognism, we pride ourselves on being able to ramp up new SDRs in 3 days. It’s a big reason why our company has scaled so well (from $0 to $4 million in ARR in under 2 years). We can take enthusiastic but inexperienced salespeople (98% of Cognism’s B2B sales team are recent graduates) and get them match-fit for selling in 72 hours.

How do we do it? In this blog, we’re going to delve into our super-speedy ramping up process and share our secrets with you. Are you ready? Let’s go!

1. Don’t overtrain 

Here at Cognism, we’re firm believers of getting stuck in. Unlike other companies who provide fortnight-long training periods for their new SDRs, we only provide our new starters with 2 days of learning before we get them on the phones.

We give them all the information they need to get started quickly. Just the basics - a little product knowledge, a little cold calling roleplay - and no more.

We also believe in individuality in selling. We don’t want robots all following the same script. Instead, what we prize are people with passion, energy and flair. As a salesperson on the phone, you have to make an immediate impression. People who’ve just started a new job have a lot of drive and motivation in their first few days.

A short training schedule for new SDRs is the perfect way to take advantage of that initial “new job” energy. 

2. Put a robust support system in place

On their first day in the office, every new SDR is allocated a mentor who sits next to them. Typically, the mentor will be a senior colleague in the SDR team - someone who’s done the job before, someone who knows the ropes and understands the pressure.

It’s the mentor’s role to support the SDR as they’re being ramped up. They help them to set goals, get settled into the office environment and get used to the different processes and procedures. Over the first 2 days, the new SDR will sit beside their mentor and listen in as they make cold calls. A new joiner can get a lot of value from seeing how a senior colleague approaches the art of selling.

The mentor-mentee scheme is all about creating a safe space for new starters, where nothing is out of bounds. We have a saying at Cognism: “no question is a stupid question.”

In fact, we encourage our new SDRs to ask questions. For them, it’s the best way of learning quickly - and making them feel valued in those crucial early days in the role. 

3. Make use of content

There is a wealth of content out there now for B2B salespeople. Much of it is freely available. There are all manner of guides, ebooks, playbooks, webinars, whitepapers and podcasts.

As a sales team leader, you can help your new SDRs out massively by making use of this content. Build up your own resource library and share it with your new starters. 

Let them go through it at their own pace, though. Remember that different people work in different ways and at different speeds. Let each SDR find his or her own value out of your content library.

Which leads us neatly onto our next point…

4. Deliver personalised learning 

Everyone learns differently. Just as we don’t want conformity in selling, we don’t want conformity in learning, either! 

When it comes to training new salespeople, Cognism is very different from most other companies. At other businesses, they train all their salespeople the same, using the same materials and the same uniform style. We don’t do that. We provide our new SDRs personalised learning materials. We recognise that people like to learn differently from one another and so we provide a variety of training methods. For instance:

  • Saif Khan joined Cognism as an SDR in June 2019. He found that the group training and product knowledge sessions in the first 2 days were the best way for him to learn.

  • Elizabeth Alli was another new SDR in June 2019. Her preferred learning method was to sit with her mentor, listen in on cold calls and get started on the phone quickly.

  • William Gay also joined us in June 2019. He gained a lot of motivation and confidence from listening to sales audiobooks which Cognism provided.

Diversifying learning for your SDRs is a simple thing to do, but it will help you get the best out of them.

5. Get them started!

All the learning and mentoring in the world can’t compare to actually doing the job. It’s still the best way for anyone to learn and get better.

So, after 2 days, we stop the learning and get our new SDRs on the phone! From the third day on, their working life is 100% cold calling. Are we worried if they make mistakes? Not a bit - making mistakes is a vital part of gaining experience and improving your skills.

We don’t throw them entirely in the deep end, though. Their mentor will still be there to answer any questions or concerns they might have. They will sit in on their mentee’s cold calls, make comments and suggest improvements. 

Results

We can hear what you’re thinking! “This all sounds really good - but does it work?”

We can tell you that this approach does! Just take a look at these stats:

  • Less than one month after joining us, Saif is booking up to 7 SQLs a week.

  • In her second week in the role, Elizabeth booked 8 demos after 300 calls.

  • 6 weeks after starting, William hit his July target halfway through the month.

So, if you want to create SDRs who are ready to crush quota in no time at all - follow Cognism’s advice! Try our ramping up techniques for yourself and see if they work for you. Be sure to let us know if they do!