SDR-To-AE Promotion Mapping In SaaS
We talk a lot on the Bowery Capital blog about general talent related matters that come up in any early stage company. Things like hitting hiring goals, using external recruiters, and best start dates. Something we have not gone deep on is thinking through promotions. When you start to build a revenue organization, your team needs an understanding of the growth ladder and the goals that will get them from one rung to the next. There is a lot of structuring required to get this right up front, and it generally fails if you are reactive and doing this in real time versus setting it up correctly from the outset. What follows will be a number of posts on our blog about the common promotion mapping pieces that come into play at our companies. First, up, the SDR-To-AE Promotion.
1. Timing. We generally recommend that founders set a high bar in terms of timing when evaluating the SDR-To-AE promotion. While the promotion timeline is largely based on company ACV and deal cycle, our belief is that nine to twelve months of consistent of quota achievement is ideal to ensure a smooth transition. Anything below this and you risk promoting someone before they’re truly ready. There is an argument for keeping reps in the SDR position longer, and many SaaS companies believe that two years is more the right approach. However, our view remains that your best SDRs want to get out of that position quickly and should be able to see that growth when they’re successful.
2. Structure. When thinking about the path and ladder from SDR-To-AE promotion, we find it is always a good idea to separate your new folks from your experienced folks. By building out tiers in your SDR org– SDR Level I and SDR Level II– you have an intermediary step and micro-promotion. When someone is promoted from SDR Level I to Level II, they get a title bump, a pay raise, and likely move into a training program to prepare them for becoming an AE. This structure allows for increased utilization and production out of SDRs for a longer period of time. It also mitigates the “where’s my promotion” language as you now have a clearly defined process.
3. Training. There are many different schools of thought on this, and we note that many times the SDR-To-AE promotion does not work out because SDRs haven’t actually been trained on the skills needed to move into a closing role. Building an effective training program is an easy way to increase success. Develop training modules that challenge the SDR to constantly pitch, shadow, be quizzed, and learn the role of the AE in their day to day. Once they’ve proven themselves in SDR Level II, have them interview for the AE position where the final step is demo-ing to the VP of Sales or the CEO.
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