How to Coach SDRs into Account Executives

Hilmon Sorey

Coaching plays a vital role in shaping the success of sales development representatives (SDRs) who are crucial in bridging the gap between marketing and sales. In this article, I explore the best strategies for coaching SDRs and how account executives can effectively guide their development. By implementing these practices, organizations can maximize their sales potential and foster a high-performing sales team.

Understanding the Role of SDRs

Definition of SDR

Sales development representatives, commonly known as SDRs, are professionals responsible for prospecting and qualifying leads. They act as the initial touchpoint for potential customers, conducting outreach and engaging in conversations to create opportunities for the sales team.

Importance of SDRs

SDRs play a critical role in the sales process by identifying qualified leads, nurturing relationships, and setting up appointments for account executives. Their top of funnel efforts lay the foundation for successful sales conversions, making their coaching and development crucial for overall sales success.

Qualities of a Successful SDR

Communication Skills

Effective communication is at the core of a successful SDR. They must possess excellent verbal and written communication skills to engage with prospects, ask relevant questions, and deliver compelling messages that resonate with potential customers.

Resilience and Perseverance

Sales can be a challenging profession, often met with rejections and obstacles. A resilient SDR possesses the ability to bounce back from setbacks, maintain motivation, and persevere through adversity.

Product Knowledge

In-depth product knowledge is not be essential for an SDR to articulate the value proposition effectively. What is critical is that an SDR understands the problem that the product is solving and the job-to-be-done of their target persona. The deeper the knowledge of a prospects workflow the better they are able to reflect a compelling value proposition.  

The Role of Account Executives


Account executives, or AEs, are responsible for closing deals and driving revenue. They collaborate closely with SDRs to ensure a smooth transition of leads and convert them into customers. AEs leverage their expertise to guide SDRs, provide insights, and contribute to their professional growth.

Collaboration with SDRs

Successful collaboration between AEs and SDRs is crucial for optimizing the sales process. AEs should actively engage with SDRs, offering guidance, support, and feedback to align their efforts towards shared goals.

Effective Coaching Strategies

Setting Clear Expectations

Clear and transparent expectations serve as a foundation for successful coaching. Sales managers should establish key performance indicators (KPIs), metrics, and targets, enabling SDRs to understand their objectives and work towards achieving them. It's critical that these measurements be things that an SDR can control: quantity and quality of activity.

Providing Ongoing Training

Continuous learning and development are vital for SDRs to refine their skills. Sales manager must organize regular training sessions, role play workshops, and provide access to relevant resources to enhance the SDRs' knowledge and capabilities.

Monitoring and Feedback

Regular monitoring of SDRs' performance allows managers to provide timely feedback and coaching. Constructive feedback helps SDRs identify areas for improvement and enables managers to recognize their strengths, fostering continuous growth and development.

Creating a Coaching Framework

Establishing Goals

Setting clear goals is paramount in a coaching framework. Managers should collaborate with SDRs to define measurable objectives that align with organizational targets, ensuring that the strategies of the organization are aligned the tactics being employed by SDRs at the ground floor.

In addition to workflow goals, manager should be able to outline a clear path to promotion for SDRs. This is not to assume that a position will always be available but ensuring that SDRS understand the quality and quantity of activity necessary to be eligible for the next step will serve as motivation and accountability drivers.

Developing Individual Plans

Each SDR is unique, and personalized coaching plans are essential to address their specific strengths and areas for improvement. Managers should work with SDRs to develop tailored plans, including actionable steps and milestones to track progress.

Regular Check-ins

Frequent check-ins provide opportunities for AEs to connect with SDRs, assess their progress, and offer guidance. These meetings allow for open discussions, addressing challenges, celebrating achievements, and fostering a collaborative environment.

Overcoming Common Challenges

Time Constraints

Time constraints can often hinder coaching efforts. Managers must optimize their schedules to allocate dedicated coaching time for SDRs individually, ensuring they receive the necessary support and guidance and are not left to fend for themselves.

When left to their own devices SDRs will revert to other junior-level friends (who may not have expertise), Linkedin gurus offering half-baked advice, and other unreliable sources.

Handling Rejection

Rejections are an inevitable part of the sales process. Managers should equip SDRs with effective objection handling techniques, resilience strategies, and provide emotional support to navigate through rejection and maintain motivation realizing that there's no need to take things personally.

Measuring and Evaluating Success

Key Performance Indicators

Measuring success requires the identification of key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with organizational goals. Managers should track metrics such as conversion rates, qualified leads generated, and revenue generated to evaluate the effectiveness of coaching efforts.

Analyzing Results

Analyzing and interpreting data provide valuable insights into the impact of coaching strategies. Managers should analyze performance metrics, identify trends, and make data-driven decisions to refine coaching techniques and drive continuous improvement.

Hilmon's Secret

Create linkages between what an SDR is currently doing to the skills and strategies they will need in an AE role.  This could include anything from time management (in day parts), to call management, asking effective pain questions, framing conversations, understanding persona relevance, writing effective emails, getting prospects to keep their commitments and creating urgency.

Often SDRs will not see the correlation between the intense amount of activity and repetition in their role and how it will benefit them when they are promoted to AE.  It's a manager's job to make this clear.

How to Know when an SDR is ready to become an Account Executive

Making the transition from SDR to AE is a significant step in an individual's career, and it should be done with careful consideration. Managers should assess a number of factors when determining if an SDR is ready for this transition:


Analyze the SDR’s performance data to gauge their success in their current role.

Motivation and Engagement

Assess the SDR’s motivation levels, enthusiasm for taking on new challenges, and willingness to learn and grow.

Knowledge of Product

Ensure that the SDR has a comprehensive understanding of your product or service offerings, target market, customer segments, and industry trends.

Communication Skills

Evaluate the SDR’s verbal and written communication capability to ensure they are able to effectively articulate messages to prospects and customers.

Technical Expertise

Determine if the SDR is proficient in sales technologies such as CRMs, dialers, and other sales applications.

Leadership Ability

Evaluate the SDR’s leadership skills in terms of their ability to collaborate with others, act with integrity, problem solve in challenging situations, and foster a positive company culture.

Relationship Management

Assess the SDR’s ability to build relationships with customers and prospects by evaluating their customer service skills and understanding of each customer segment.  

Evaluate these factors to determine if an SDR is ready for the transition to AE role, then provide them with the necessary guidance and support throughout this process.  

Finally, when making the decision to promote an SDR to AE, managers must ensure that the person is well prepared mentally and emotionally for the challenge ahead.

By implementing the strategies outlined above, sales managers can ensure that their inside sales teams are properly coached and supported to reach optimal performance levels. With proper guidance and support, SDRs can develop and refine their skills over time to become fully capable AEs.  

This involves providing them with sufficient


Coaching SDRs into account executives is a collaborative and ongoing process that yields significant benefits for sales organizations. By understanding the role of SDRs, leveraging effective coaching strategies, and fostering a supportive environment, managers can unlock the potential of their SDRs and propel their sales team towards success.


How often should sales managers coach SDRs?

Coaching should be an ongoing process, ideally with regular check-ins and scheduled coaching sessions to provide consistent support and guidance.

What are the common challenges faced by SDRs?

SDRs often face challenges such as handling rejection, time constraints, and maintaining motivation. Effective coaching helps address these challenges.

How can sales managers motivate SDRs?

Sales managers can motivate SDRs through recognition, incentives, creating a positive work environment, and offering opportunities for growth and development.

What metrics should sales managers track to measure success?

Sales managers should track metrics such as conversion rates, qualified leads generated, and revenue generated to evaluate the effectiveness of coaching efforts.

How can Sales managers overcome time constraints for coaching?

Sales managers should optimize their schedules, allocate dedicated coaching time, and prioritize coaching as a crucial activity to overcome time constraints.

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What others are saying

Hillmon and Cory did a great job on this one! By writing the book as fiction, instead of your typical sales textbook, the duo has been able to deliver great content in a fun format.Whether you're leading a team, trying to make the jump to manager, or a rep just looking for a new resource, 5 secrets has something for everyone.I would give it a 6/5 - 5/5 for the content and a bonus point for the original format! Keep 'em coming!
Scotty McComas
Absolutely fantastic. There’s plenty of writing about better ways to sell - but great front line management is the single best way to improve sales org results. This book is a fantastic primer on how sales managers can better coach their teams to success.
Peter Kazanjy
This book reminded me of Ken Blanchard's "One Minute Manager" in its use of story to convey powerful concepts... simply. This book is as entertaining as it is relevant and impactful. I've given it to every manager on my team as the framework we use for performance improvement across the sales team. Well done.
Mo Saifullah
This is another great addition to a list of books by Hilmon & Cory. This is a great book for anyone that is a leader and aspiring to become a leader. I recently read this book and I've already applied a lot of the advice to my team. there a alot of great books out on the market about coaching/leadership. I would recommend this book to everyone.
Yanosky Merzius
Most practical book I've ever read on sales coaching. Able to read and implement immediately. Highly recommend it!
Edward S.
So I have admit that I was a bit skeptical about the format being a fiction book for business. I can say after reading, it’s clear why they did it! The framework is presented in an easy way to understand and even easier to apply format. Definitely is a great book for anyone managing salespeople. Highly recommended!

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