Learn more about the main problem in career progression within the field of sales development as well as ways to address it in this episode of Sales Secrets.
In this article:
- About My Guest — Ryan Schertzer
- The Current State of the Sales Development Role
- Top Problem with Career Progression in Sales Development
- Creating Career Progression for Sales Development Reps
- Using a System of Requirements and Rewards
- Three Rewards That Matter to Sales Development Reps
- Money Plays a Role in Career Progression
- Recognition and Its Role in Career Progression
- Job Titles and Their Role in Career Progression
- Making a Career Progression Path Stick
Career Progression For Sales Development: The Problem and Solution
Sales Development Definition: A sales department or team that qualifies leads to help quota-based sales reps prioritize leads. While they’re not involved in selling, sales development is crucial in helping leads further along in the pipeline.
About My Guest — Ryan Schertzer
In this episode, I chat with Ryan Schertzer, the Director for Inside Sales of Seal Software. The company aims to tackle the issue of career progression for sales development representatives as well as how the issue can be resolved through a system or requirements and rewards.
1. The Current State of the Sales Development Role
Schertzer considers a sales development representative as critical elements of an organization. This is because the sales development team is in charge of spearheading customer research, prospecting for customers, and generating initial leads for the organization.
The sales development role in many different companies is also one which has been growing over the years. Because organizations have their own ways of directing their sales development representatives or reps, there remains no single and encompassing way to prospect customers.
Since the practice of sales development evolves so fast, there’s still so much we don’t know about it. To this day, even the most seasoned sales reps are still trying to figure out the best and most optimal ways to prospect for customers.
2. Top Problem with Career Progression in Sales Development
One of the queries about sales development is the question of career progression. It’s important to tackle this because sales reps are always looking for the step-up or “what’s next” in their careers.
The problem with talking about career progression in the field of sales development is it’s almost non-existent. Ryan illustrated this with an example.
After about one to two years into the job, top-performing sales reps would often start asking their hiring managers, “Where do I go from here?” or “What’s my next step?”. Many hiring managers would often resort to promoting these top-performers and giving them fancier titles such as “Senior Inside Sales Representative”.
When these top sales representatives hear about their promotion, they’re ecstatic, but only for a couple of minutes. Here’s why: they would realize afterward that nothing would really change in terms of what they’d be doing as a senior sales rep.
The promotion may bring about a new job title, salary increase, and other benefits. However, senior sales reps would still be expected to conduct consumer research and prospect for customers.
This makes it hard for a sales rep to stay motivated throughout their stay in the organization. It also means that a company could lose its most effective and experienced sales representatives.
3. Creating Career Progression for Sales Development Reps
Schertzer formulated a six-tier progression path for the sales development representatives at Seal Software to help combat the issue of career progression. Each tier represents a Seal Team level within the sales development team of the Seal Software organization.
A sales rep would have to satisfy specific metrics and pass through certain gates in order to move up to the higher Seal Team levels. For example, a sales rep would have to be able to set a specific number of meetings with actual customers or demonstrate a certain level of sales proficiency within a couple of weeks.
Once sales reps accomplish the metrics for each level, they would qualify for promotion to the next Seal Team level.
4. Using a System of Requirements and Rewards
Schertzer’s six-tier progression path works on a system of requirements and rewards. Each level in the six-tier progression path was designed to have its own set of requirements and rewards for the sales reps to fulfill and achieve, respectively.
As mentioned earlier, the sales development representatives at Seal Software are required to fulfill certain requirements before they can move onto the higher Seal Team levels. These requirements vary for each level and become more challenging to complete as the tiers progress.
Sales reps who satisfy these requirements receive rewards. These rewards serve three purposes:
- The rewards serve as a form of recognition for the sales development reps. It’s the company’s way of recognizing the work put in by the sales rep.
- Rewards also help motivate members of the sales development team. These rewards keep sales reps happy and help convince them to stay and work for the organization.
- Lastly, providing rewards after surpassing a Seal Team level also helps sales reps to improve on their performance. The reps themselves are challenged to refine their skills and even develop new techniques of their own because each tier requires them to increase their sales.
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5. Three Rewards That Matter to Sales Development Reps
During the podcast, Schertzer also mentioned different kinds of rewards a sales rep would expect to enjoy after completing the requirements that make them eligible to move onto the next Seal Team level. In particular, he mentioned the three types of rewards integrated into the six-tier progression path at Seal Software:
- Monetary reward
- Job title change
Using a combination of these rewards encourages reps to stick with the company as well as improve on their selling skills and sales development strategy.
6. Money Plays a Role in Career Progression
Monetary rewards are a big deal for sales development representatives. Having a higher sales development salary or getting a bonus entices sales reps to do better, work harder, and strive to move up the six-tier progression path.
According to Schertzer, they’re especially appealing to young and hungry fresh-graduates who want to make their own money right away.
7. Recognition and Its Role in Career Progression
In the eyes of sales reps, being recognized for their good work is a reward all on its own. It’s always a good thing to keep sales development representatives assured that the team appreciates their efforts.
Acknowledging the work put in by a single sales rep doesn’t only encourage her or him to do better. The team will have the motivation to put in their best efforts in order to achieve or even surpass sales quotas when they see one of their own being praised for working hard.
8. Job Titles and Their Role in Career Progression
Rewarding employees with better job titles also help encourage them to stick to the six-tier progression path. Having an official job title at the workplace gives the sales rep a sense of authority which helps boost their confidence.
9. Making a Career Progression Path Stick
While the six-tier progression path Schertzer designed for Seal Software works very well for the company, it may not work for all other companies. This might be the case because the sales development culture in organizations varies greatly.
In general, Schertzer suggested that in order for a career progression model to work within the sales development team of an organization, the specific model should be committed to the employee’s success. Rewards for top-performers should also be designed in such a way they’re meaningful to people.
To do this, hiring managers should make a profile of their sales representatives. If you’re a hiring manager, make sure to ask your sales reps about the things which motivate them so you can design a progression program that reinforces these motivations.
It’ll be easier for you to acquire new hires and maintain them in the long run when your organization offers a concrete career progression path for prospective sales development representatives.
A solid career progression plan also reassures your sales development representatives of their future in your company. It makes it clear in the minds of your sales reps that there is a “next step” in their careers.
The career progression for a company’s sales development reps shouldn’t be a dead end. You can pioneer a career progression path for your organization by developing a system of requirements and rewards that motivate your sales reps. This way, you’ll be able to retain your top-performing sales representatives and train them to become better salespersons in the future.
Do you think your organization has a clear career path for sales development reps? Tell us about it in the comments section below!
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Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode: