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3 Ways to Improve Your SDR Hiring Process

Nov 29th, 2017

In today’s job market, there’s a lot of demand for quality sales development talent. Many organizations are moving towards a more heavily weighted inside/digital sales model which is putting more pressure on hiring managers to get quality talent in the door, quickly. At Brainshark, I was tasked with more than doubling the team that I inherited about 8 months ago.

Based on my experience, here are 3 of the most impactful things I did to achieve success.

1. Use LinkedIn Creatively

I decided to take a very different approach with LinkedIn – I wanted to stand out above the noise, even if it took some time to do it. Instead of repeatedly posting job descriptions for account developers, I decided to turn my own profile into one:

  • I updated my name to reflect, “I’M HIRING” so it was prevalent in my interactions
  • I used the ‘About Me’ section to describe my company and why someone would want to be an account developer here
  • I put the job requirements in the ‘Experience’ section for my current role


With this approach, prospective candidates could see that I was hiring before they even viewed my profile. Plus, they were able to find the job opportunities when they saw me share other content, participate in groups, and comment on others’ posts.


  • 6 different candidates reached out directly to me via LinkedIn referencing my profile (1 was hired)
  • 3 hiring managers from other companies reached out to ask if it was an effective strategy
  • I was also able to weed out handfuls of candidates (sorry, no hard numbers for this metric) who clearly didn’t do their research on me before getting on a call – also an important part of the hiring process

2. Have a consistent, ironed-out process

A lot of hiring is done based on feel and instinct. I’ve found that this largely gets justified by the need for a candidate to be a cultural fit with the team (which is highly important). Having said that, you’d be surprised how many more winners you’ll get by defining a strong hiring process and consistently sticking to it, regardless of who the candidate is and who referred them.

At the AA-ISP Boston Event, Laurie Page, Managing Partner at The Bridge Group, made a really strong case for having a multifaceted hiring process and how it serves as arguably the most important factor to your team’s success.

Here is the process we developed at Brainshark, with some help from Laurie’s tips:

This is the process we stick to with every candidate. The two biggest elements that separates this from the more traditional processes I’ve witnessed are Step 2: Survey and Step 5: Coaching Challenge.

By sending a very simple quiz/survey on our company it allows us to test whether the candidate can research and analyze us efficiently and intelligently – a significant expectation of the role – and illustrates just about how badly they really want the job. It’s remarkable how many people I’ve disqualified at this step and saved time for our larger hiring committee. You can easily introduce this into your process for free with tools like Zoho and SurveyMonkey.

The Coaching Challenge at the end of the process gives us incredible insight into the candidate’s ability to prepare, think outside the box, and develop a sense of comfort with the very technology they will be selling. It’s also a good opportunity for us to demonstrate how we provide feedback and how we see the world so that they can make a good determination if our styles match – remember, interviews are a two-way street.


  • So far, 5 great candidates were hired and began producing within a month of their start date
  • 16 candidates disqualified after the survey stage saving nearly 100 face-to-face conversations with our hiring team

3. Understand career ambitions and demonstrate a path

This piece of the puzzle is my favorite because it holds both the candidate and the organization equally accountable.

Most of the younger talent these days don’t aspire to be a career SDR so companies need to provide a clear path in and out of that role. But it’s also incredibly important to set expectations accurately – especially timelines. In an interview process, you need to ascertain if a candidate is truly comfortable with the timeline they’re expected to perform in their role. The SDR job is a grind even in the least militant of organizations so your heart needs to be in it for as long as you expect to perform well.

For more entry-level SDR’s, Brainshark asks for a 1-year commitment in the role and an 18-month commitment for more senior ADR’s who are a step away from a closing role. That doesn’t mean that high-performers and stand outs can’t make this progression in less time, but we’re adamant about conditioning candidates to not expect it sooner.

The flip side for companies is that if you don’t demonstrate this path, you’ll lose valuable talent and block yourself from acquiring it from the outside. While career movement has always been available at Brainshark, we’ve taken great strides to formalize a path to a closing sales role and leveraged our sales enablement team to create competency and leadership programs that allow SDRs to move into closing roles, management-oriented positions, or laterally across the business.

Possible Paths:

Sales Research Associate –> SDR –> ADR (senior) –> Team Lead –> Manager, ADR –> Retention/Mid-Market Sales

ADR –> Sales Ops, Marketing, Customer Success, etc.

For more tips on sales coaching, check out our eBook: Next-Gen Coaching for the Next-Gen Sales Force.