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How to retain your SDR talent

Once you’ve brought your sales development A-players on board, you want to keep them for as long as you can. How can you get retention right with today’s younger workforce? Let’s find out.

In our previous article, which you can read here, we looked at how spotting talented SDRs is a challenge and how you can design a hiring process that helps you find the best. Now, we’re going to look at retention. Going back to the famous Steve Jobs quote: 

‘A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.’

That’s great, but if your A-players jump ship and go somewhere else after a year or so, you have to start all over again.

A LinkedIn study found that 56% of organisations struggle to keep hold of high potential or top-performing employees. It’s a problem that so many otherwise great companies face. In this article, we’re going to look at ways we can boost retention, focusing specifically on today’s younger workforce who primarily take up SDR roles.

Tap into their motivation

When I started as an SDR, retention typically centred around financial incentives. To keep us with the company, there would be increases in base salary or OTE every year. Most of the time, it worked.

However, today’s generation of SDRs is different. The things that drive them are different. Money isn’t as big a motivator as it used to be. But, if they don’t respond to pay raises, what do they respond to?

The same LinkedIn study found that 45% of employees who leave their jobs cite concern over a lack of advancement opportunities. Today’s generation wants opportunities to progress.

To boost your retention levels, find out what drives your SDRs, as well as what threatens to pull them away. Do this on an individual level if you can. Then, tap into it to give them what they want.


Employees who don’t believe they can achieve career goals with a current company are 12x more likely to consider leaving. For new employees, this number increases to 30x. If you are going to retain your A-player reps, you need to empower them with opportunities to grow their careers. 

Of course, there are only enough promotions to go around, while some SDRs simply won’t be ready for more responsibilities straight away. The key is to collaborate with them on developing a career path. Show them the opportunities that lay ahead for them in your company, show them what they need to do to get there, then help them succeed.

For example, convey how high-performing employees are the talent brand and the best resource for attracting exciting new talent.


As well as progression, today’s cohort of SDRs is motivated by opportunities to learn. It’s something that attracts A-players to your business, as well as something that will keep them there.

Create a transformative learning culture in your organisation, that consistently reaffirms with your employees that their development is important to you. Here are some ideas you can try:

  • Lunch & Learn sessions – regular 30-45 minute deep-dive sessions, preferably over pizza. They provide learning with a social element.
  • Clinics – 45 min overview sessions where SDRs can drop in. Let them bring their own devices for hands-on learning.
  • Executive sponsors – Someone high up in the company to talk to the SDR team on a regular basis, to show them how what they do impacts the people at the top and vice versa.
  • Internal marketing – Regular updates for employees around process, or training. Design them to be exciting and engaging.
  • Reminders – Keep best practices top of mind with regular reminders. Share content on Slack or your intranet. Keep stakeholders involved with monthly reports on learning impacts.


Finally, change the way you do those off-the-cuff incentives in your business. 

I remember running an incentive at a company where I used to work. If a rep hit certain metrics, we’d give them $1000. However, it turned out that it wasn’t driving the behaviours we expected. So we changed it.

We changed the prize to lunch with the CSO. As if by magic, there was a huge increase in results. It turns out young SDRs don’t want money; they want visibility, recognition and opportunity.

Find out more

When you have a strong framework for retaining SDRs, you can tap into what drives them and always give them what they want.

At Salesworks, we help you find, recruit and retain the people who will get you to your growth objectives. To find out more about SalesWorks, visit salesworks.co.uk.