Data-backed Management: SDR and Inside Sales Teams

Management Blog

Today’s world is built on data. Nearly everything we do is connected. Algorithms tell us what to buy, who to follow, what to like, and more. 

Why should you care about data as an SDR leader or enablement professional?

Nearly 75% of sales orgs waste resources due to random and informal coaching approaches (source). What defines a random/informal coaching approach? When it is run exclusively by ‘your gut’. 

Though the reality is that your gut will always have a place in sales, you can’t rely solely on it; you need more! You need data – but not all data is created equal.

First, the data has to be useful. Second, it has to be usable. Third, it has to actually be used.

Did you know that 88% of collected data goes completely unprocessed?! It’s just sitting there, taking up space. 

“The vast majority of the world’s data has been created in the last few years and this astonishing growth of data shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, IDC predicts the world’s data will grow to 175 zettabytes in 2025.” (source)

This is written specifically for the prospecting use case and how you can harness the power of data to supercharge your coaching strategy and build a quality pipeline. 

If you want even more, Sales Impact Academy has you covered. Our course, Data Driven SDR Management, with interactive practice and hands-on guidance is here. 

Okay, enough of that, let’s get to the good part.


Track What?

Many organazation’s stumble, right out of the gate, when identifying what needs to be tracked. They tell themselves that any data is better than no data at all. While that could be true it’s not very useful – see what I did there?

Imagine if you had all the data you ever wanted as a manager.

    • What would you want to know about your team? 
    • What questions about your team would you be able to answer,  that you’re not able to answer today?

SDRs and Inside Sales teams have a direct impact pipeline. Things that impact pipeline are setting meetings, quality meetings, and making sure that my call conversion is appropriate. This is where your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can also help guide you. 

Some examples of common KPIs for prospecting roles are:

    • Total activities – scheduled, due, skipped, completed…
    • Conversion rates – Meetings booked, opportunities created…
    • Buyer Engagement – Message reply rates, conversation sentiment and outcomes…
    • Process adoption – average follow-up events, number of touchpoints…
    • Lead Response Time (inbound)

In general SDR managers should be looking into what data they need, to understand what their team is doing and what is working with their buyers.

So let’s talk about Leading and Lagging indicators. As a simple definition: A leading indicator looks ahead and plans for future outcomes and events. A lagging indicator indicates if the expected result was achieved.


A cake recipe calls for specific amounts of salt, sugar, flour and eggs. If the cake tastes good, that’s the lagging indicator, it’s looking at the result of the process of baking. A leading indicator would be a specific amount of an ingredient added – you would never be able to recreate a cake by just tasting it at the end, you need to start with a plan which you anticipate will give you a great tasting cake, in this analogy that’d be the ingredients list, their measurements and clear directions. (source)


Looking at this through the Sales lens- the great tasting cake is a successful meeting booking, which follows through and leads to a sale – these are the lagging indicators. 

The ingredients are your calls, emails and other communications – they all work together to get the great outcome – and those are your leading indicators. 


Let’s get (a little) Technical

Once you have your wish list and know what is a lagging indicator vs a leading, it’s time to take a moment and do a reality check. It’s time to check in with your tech stack. This is also where things can get a little technical, so let’s break it down a bit.

Big data has had the concept of the three Vs (volume, velocity and variety) for some time – established by Doug Laney during his time with Gartner. 

    • Variety – the amount of data you have
    • Volume – the amount of data you can store
    • Velocity – How fast you capture/analyze data

Let’s look at this using a specific example from the SDR world. 

If your demo rate is looking poor (lagging indicator) you want to be able to review these leading indicators:

    1. Calls attempted
    2. Answer rate
    3. Conversion rate

Variety is having the data (demos booked, calls attempted, answer rate, conversion rate). 

Volume is having a tech stack that can store the data.

Velocity is how long it takes for that data to be tracked, synced, and stored.

You want all that data consolidated, as best you can, in a tool that lets you slice and dice to identify what is working and what isn’t. As an SDR manager, this looks like your CRM, sales engagement, and sales coaching tech are all integrated together. 

Easy, right?! …


Data in Action

Ok, so now what do you want to track and how to track it? You got your dashboards built and you are ready to put this new insight into action!

But how? Through your 1:1 or 1:many coaching sessions.

60% of sales reps say they’re more likely to leave their job if their manager is a poor coach (source) – no pressure. 

This is where Sales Impact Academy’s Data Driven Coaching Framework shines. 


Examine metrics to help you to understand the current data 
Investigate why this is happening 
Make a plan outlining the behaviour you hope to change 


As a manager, you should prepare for your coaching sessions in advance. If you don’t prepare, you’re unlikely to get the outcome you want and need from the meeting. 

First, work out where the data comes from in your tech stack and process. Take a moment to spot-check the quality of the data – that it’s from the correct source of truth – it’s accurate and it’s up to date. 

    1. Before you do anything, check your overall team performance against the targets to ensure they were actually achievable. 
    2. Next, dig into the rep’s activity and look for deviations – it is good to check the ‘problem’ rep against their previous performance as well as against a top and average performer on the team.
    3. Investigate what the numbers are telling you – what kinds of things could be happening to cause this missed metric? Is this common across the whole team or just to this person?  Do you need to look at any other data points to add context? 
    4. Finally, work out which behaviors you would change to improve performance – this is where your gut may suddenly come to play.

In our Data Driven SDR Management course, we take a deep dive into the best practices for leveraging data for coaching. Not an SIA member? We can fix that!