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Should SDRs and AEs be paired together?

Revenue Blog  > Should SDRs and AEs be paired together?
3 min readAugust 22, 2020

The relationship between your sales development reps and account executives is absolutely crucial to your sales success. Without the two teams working in harmony, you risk missed opportunities and lost deals.

The average sales team has 2.6 account executives for every SDR. That means that each sales development rep is stretched thin, as they must supply qualified leads for at least two AEs. This imbalanced ratio is perhaps the largest contributing factor to sales team problems, especially when it comes to pipeline development.

There’s been much research and speculation about optimal sales team structure and SDR to AE ratios. There are many factors to consider when designing your team, especially when it comes to the number of each type of rep, but most models either center around SDR and AE pairs, or “pods” of each type of rep that pass leads to particular rep.

The best way to halt sales pipeline problems and failure-proof your sales team is to pair development reps and account executives together on a one-to-one basis (or group multiple SDRs to AEs). Here’s why…

New hire ramp time to full productivity is shorter

Whether it’s a development rep or account executive, they will both be able to learn a new role quickly and ramp to full sales productivity faster with a dedicated partner. If the SDR is new, they want to perform for their AE, who needs them for leads. If the AE is new, they already have a stream of qualified leads to work with. The two can form a partnership and learn each other’s preferences and tactics to become an effective team.

Smoother handoffs

SDRs and AEs who are paired together get to know one another more completely. They communicate more routinely, are able to stay on the same page consistently and develop a shared style. Operating as a team on a routine basis enables them to work out any kinks in their handoff process and continually improve it. The result is a smoother transition for the prospect and an AE who’s better prepared for each demo. Armed with more details and deeper insights from discovery shared by the SDR, the AE is able to pick up right where the SDR left off. They’re enabled to dig even deeper during the meeting while preventing the prospect from repeating information previously shared.

Better rep retention rate

Teaming up is a win-win for SDRs and AEs and results in better rep retention. It helps SDRs learn new skills, and AEs develop valuable management and coaching skills in the process. This happens naturally since the AE and SDR should communicate consistently, with the AE providing guidance and feedback to the SDR. This input from the AE helps the SDR continue to improve and grow into AE material. This takes some of the coaching pressure off sales management by AEs providing peer-to-peer coaching and constantly prepares reps for the next step in their professional journey. It also gives them a clear path for advancement within the company resulting in higher rep retention while reducing training and development costs.

Higher overall productivity

Higher efficiency, reduced lost deals, and a higher close rate are a natural outcome of better communication as well as teamwork. This successful duo meet routinely to provide valuable feedback to one another so they are continually improving how they work together. They also know who needs to record what information in CRM as well as when. Plus they meet before each demo to ensure the AE is fully prepared for the call. They also debrief afterward, discussing next steps for the prospect as well as who will perform these next actions. This prevents leads from falling through the cracks and ensures more are closed when the time is right.

Pairing or pods, whichever you choose to call this model, is customer-centric. It allows all reps involved in a customer’s journey to communicate more effectively throughout the sales cycle for a more seamless customer experience and a resulting higher close rate. Plus, instead of pitting individual reps against each other on a larger sales team, pairs compete against other pairs. This also drives up productivity.

There’s a lot to be gained from pairing SDRs and AEs together – shorter ramp times, better customer experiences, higher rep retention and increased productivity. Perhaps it’s time to consider this model for your inside sales team?