How To Avoid SDR Burnout

According to Career Builder, 61% of employees feel burned out in their current job, with 31% reporting high levels of work stress. This is especially true for Sales Development Representatives (SDRs).

Below is a preview of a typical SDR’s work day:

5:30 am - Wake Up

7:00 am - Commute to Work

8:00 am - Arrive at Workplace

8:15 am - Meeting with Team

9:00 am - Customer Outreach via Phone (with 15 minute break)

11:15 am - Check and send Follow-Up Emails (with 1 hour lunch break)

2:00 pm - Resume Phone Outreach (with 15 minute break)

4:00 pm - Prepare Work for Tomorrow

5:00 pm - Leave Workplace

5:00-8:29 pm - Free Time

8:30 pm - Respond to Emails from Executives

10:00 pm - Bedtime

With such a long work day, it is not hard to imagine why many SDRs feel burned out.

While this is a common occurrence, SDR burnout can create inefficiencies that hinder business, such as a high employee-turnover rate. Even in minor cases of burnout, affected SDRs are unhappy and less effective when prospecting. This will negatively affect long-term return-on-investment.

However, it is not too late.

There are various methods to reverse the consequences of SDR burnout, depending on your current situation.


Solutions for SDR Burnout

1. Focus on small goals before moving on to larger milestones

When it comes to sales prospecting, the amount of potential leads to reach out to can overwhelm SDRs. As seen above, a typical work day can seem like a never-ending cycle of outreach.

According to Gallup, only 1 out of 3 U.S. employees claim they got recognition for their efforts within the course of a week. This accounts for less than half of employees, which is alarming.

You may say:

Isn’t that just part of the inevitable responsibility of being a SDR?

Yes, a large scale of prospecting is required of SDRs, but there are ways to keep them motivated.

Instead of just focusing on long-term profit measures to assess their productivity, show awareness towards the amount of calls SDRs make per day, whether the lead becomes profitable in the long run or not. Avoid treating them like gears in a machine, with the sole purpose of providing results.

One of the best ways to get employees to work efficiently in the long-run is to align their goals and beliefs with yours.

Create an environment in which friendly competition is fostered to keep things exciting. For example, you could give special perks and recognition to the “SDR of the Month”. Compensation and motivation does not always have to be monetary. If you’re not quite sure where to start, Small Business Trends has a guide on how to set up an Employee of the Month program.

2. Allow future advancement opportunities

Showing recognition of the work that SDRs can be a relatively simple solution to SDR burnout. However, recognition may not be enough motivation for some. Allowing future advancement opportunities can be a useful approach. To employees, job advancement can be a means to increase their salary and indirectly, an increase in wealth.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can be used to illustrate this scenario.

According to this model, basic needs have to be addressed before psychological and self-fulfillment needs. Recognition would fit into the esteem needs category of psychological needs.

However, if the SDR is facing financial difficulties, he or she may not be as inclined to work more for a honorary title. Salary increases from job advancement (or any monetary benefit) can fit most easily into safety and physiological needs, which both make up basic needs. When people are facing financial predicaments, their focus would be on means of sustenance, which is more often than not acquired with the exchange of money.

Although job advancement can provide a higher salary, it can also provide a feeling of accomplishment. With job advancement comes a new title. For example, one can move on from being a sale representative to a sales manager. The latter is a lot more prestigious sounding, even if the work does not differ greatly. As a result, this approach targets both psychological and basic needs.

3. Provide mentorship

Aside from monetary compensation and recognition, gaining experience and knowledge within a certain field is another motivating factor for employees.

In terms of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, this can tie into self-actualization, which makes up self-fulfillment needs. We would have to assume that the employee in question has already met his or her basic and psychological needs, hence the drive to discover his or her potential.

Those in higher positions of authority, ranging from the CEO to a manager, can provide this via mentorship. For any position, there are certain nuances and details that one can only gain awareness of through personal experience or listening to others about theirs. The latter is often seen as the ideal, since it can help save time and minimize loss in terms of resources.

For SDRs who are eager to learn how to advance and grow their career, mentorship is definitely something that would motivate them. Make it known to them that mentorship is available, but only to those who have proved themselves to the company.

4. Foster an open company culture

Company culture plays a big role in how employees feel about their jobs. In fact, it sets the basis for the work environment. To avoid burnout, it is important to foster a company culture that matches up with the needs and values of SDRs.

When the needs and values of SDRs match up with those in the workplace, they are able to get along better with their coworkers and increase work efficiency.

The happiness of employees are often correlated with their productivity. If SDRs do not feel like they belong in the work environment, they will often feel less motivated to work and have a higher chance of feeling burnt out.

In terms of productivity, it is very important to create a community and support network within company culture. This can be done by occasionally rewarding employees, such as taking them out to a company meal. Not only will this show appreciation, it will create a bonding experience.

It is important to not overlook the effects of a positive company culture. According to Ranstad US, 58% of employees would consider pursuing opportunities with lower pay if it meant working under a great boss.

5. Create a more interesting work day

The productivity of SDRs is often assessed based on the number of dials they make. However, this is one of the main reasons why they feel burned out.

In addition to avoiding a focus on number of calls, there are ways to make the role of a SDR more interesting. This can indirectly decrease the likelihood of burning out.

One method is to allow SDRs to join actual sales calls. The role of SDR only accounts for outbound marketing, so SDRs are never responsible for closing deals. However, allowing them to join sales calls allows them to see the fruits of their labor. This will do well in terms of motivation, especially if the SDR was responsible for finding the lead that the company was able to secure as a customer.


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