July 1, 2024

Jarno Lehikoinen

Building an SDR team for SaaS company

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#TalentBuzz Episode Recap: Jarno Lehikoinen on Building an SDR Function

Introduction to Jarno Lehikoinen and Heeros

  • Guest: Jarno Lehikoinen
  • Company: Heeros
  • Host: Samuli Salonen
  • Overview: Jarno has been with Heeros for four years, previously held various sales director roles at Talenom, and has over a decade of experience in sales. Heeros is a 20-year-old listed company specializing in financial and payroll software for mid-sized customers and accounting offices.

Building an SDR Function at Heeros

  • Initial Steps: Heeros initially worked with external partners for booking meetings but faced challenges with declining meeting quality and quantity over time.
  • Decision to Internalize SDR: After trying several external partners, Heeros decided to bring the SDR function in-house, starting by hiring two SDRs based on advice from other companies.

Hiring Process and Profile Definition

  • Hiring in Pairs: Hiring in pairs was recommended to avoid the risk of onboarding a single SDR and to ensure mutual support and competition.
  • Profile Definition: Focused on hiring more experienced SDRs with B2B booking experience to ensure early success in building the new team.

Challenges in Hiring Senior SDRs

  • Market Dynamics: Many senior SDRs were looking to transition to account executive roles, making it challenging to find candidates interested in remaining in SDR positions.
  • Recruitment Strategy: Used a combination of job postings and headhunting to find suitable candidates, though the number of qualified candidates remained limited.

Effective Recruitment Process

  • Streamlined Interviews: Kept the recruitment process concise, typically with two to three meetings, to maintain candidate interest.
  • Feedback Mechanism: Provided feedback after each meeting, which candidates appreciated, fostering a positive dialogue.

Compensation and Incentives

  • Salary Model: Implemented a base salary plus a bonus for each booked meeting. Initially considered including bonuses based on won deals but decided against it due to longer sales cycles.
  • Quality Assurance: Ensured meeting quality by setting criteria such as targeting the right ICP companies and decision-makers. Meetings had to address specific customer problems to be considered valid.

Onboarding and Training SDRs

  • Focused Training: Developed an SDR playbook detailing lead processes, tool usage, and performance expectations. Focused on one product at a time to streamline learning.
  • Practical Onboarding: Emphasized getting SDRs on the phone quickly rather than prolonged training sessions.

Measuring Success and Results

  • Early Indicators: While long-term success will be clearer in the coming months, initial results show significant improvement with internal SDRs compared to external partners.
  • Meeting Targets: Internal SDRs booked significantly more meetings than external partners, indicating early effectiveness.

Top 5 Key Learnings from the Episode

  1. Hiring in Pairs: Hiring two SDRs simultaneously helps mitigate risks and fosters mutual support.
  2. Senior SDRs: Consider hiring experienced SDRs initially to build a strong foundation for the team.
  3. Streamlined Process: Keep the recruitment process concise and provide feedback to maintain candidate engagement.
  4. Clear Criteria: Establish clear criteria for meeting quality to ensure SDRs book relevant and valuable meetings.
  5. Practical Onboarding: Focus on getting SDRs operational quickly with targeted, practical training.

This episode provides valuable insights into building and managing an SDR function, with practical tips and strategies for effective hiring, onboarding, and ensuring meeting quality.

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