Stop Losing Your SDR Talent: 3 Strategies for Sales Development Talent Retention

By Quyen Chang

According to TOPO, “SDRs contribute 50+% of the pipeline for most B2B organizations.” With this very important metric, the focus on keeping and developing top talent is critical.

John Valsamis and I had the honor of presenting to an esteemed group of leaders at the TOPO Sales Development council. What I loved about this session was the sharing of best practices and advice given to the group so we all can go back to our companies and continue to keep our teams motivated and successful.

Below are some key strategies that we shared that encouraged great conversation.

Ambassadors: Do you have the right representation to make your initiatives a success?

As with any successful initiative, having ambassadors to help you execute is important. We instituted a program called ambassadors; these were individual contributors that represented their communities, for example, SDR ambassadors. This global group consisted of those who volunteered their time or were nominated by their management team.

At the beginning of the program, we started with a call to share the details on the time commitment, responsibilities, and expectations. Some examples of the responsibilities they held were to share feedback on programs such as content/messaging for future Global Field Kickoff’s, Selling Through Curiosity enablement sessions, participation on a pilot for future tools (such as and many more. Having this ambassador group available and eager to help, gave the sales development and enablement teams the ability to continuously launch successful programs. We also had SDR’s help us communicate the new initiatives to show that they felt that these programs were valuable.

Incentives: What types of recognition is available beyond the standard expectations?

We recognize that a lot of our top talent also focused beyond the salary and commission, many of these employees take the time to do more than their day-to-day responsibilities.

Some examples of recognition that we implemented were:

  • Dedicating an SDR team lead for the weekly sales stretches. One example sales stretch was an elevator pitch role-play exercise led by team lead instead of the SDR manager.
  • Showcasing top monthly or quarterly SDR awards to our executive team and on our internal communication channels. Examples of some of these quarterly awards were SDR with the highest call dispositions, team player, etc.
  • Qualification for a spot on our company President’s Club, which also had attendance from many of our top sales executives, customer success team and company executives.


Pre-role transition enablement: Is there an enablement program to help SDR’s before they transition roles?

Many of the most successful account executives that I have worked with, started her or his sales career in a sales development role. Our team quickly realized the importance of developing a program before an SDR is promoted into the Account Executive (AE) ranks.

As we were preparing for our new fiscal year in 2018, the sales development leadership and enablement teams organized a pre-SDR promotion program. This program was over a 3-month span where we incorporated in-person and webinar training (i.e. reviewing sales process, content, and level 2 product training) and mentorship from senior AE’s (mentors had each SDR mentee shadow current sales deals/calls and reviewed deal based role-play scenarios).

We used Saleshood to have each mentee upload their sales pitch and gave mentors the ability to give feedback. Having a tool such as this, gave mentors the ability to help with their mentee outside of the normal selling hours. This process did not disrupt their current sales cadence and sales development and executive leadership teams were able to get visibility on the engagement and preparation of each SDR in this program. At the end of the program, each SDR would complete the interview process, share best practices they learned, and we were able to quickly ramp these SDRs when they had the opportunity for promotion.*

*Proud to mention that many of the SDR’s from this program had qualified to attend Presidents Club this year!


As we continue to focus on our revenue targets, the impact that our sales development teams have is very high. When you strategically outline ambassadors, the right incentives and a development and advancement plan, this can only accelerate your company towards a successful path to growth.

What are other strategies have you implemented to keep top talent?

I love to learn from others and encourage you to share on other strategies you have used for keeping top sales development talent.

Until next time –

Cheers, “Q”

Author, Quyen Chang is currently Head of Global Sales Enablement at Airbnb 

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