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Top 10 Reasons Why Sales Development Teams Fail

In this blog post, we cover the most common reasons and also what you can do to avoid them. We have structured the post into failures of Sales Management as well as failures of the Sales Representative.

If your SDR and BDR Team don’t perform, your company will struggle. Proper Sales and Business Development is especially important to companies with ambitious growth goals and companies who face a lot of competition.

Often the only way to outgrow your competition is by having a well-performing revenue team including marketing, sales, business development, and direct sales.

Sales Management - Reasons For Failure

SDR and BDR Teams fail because of none or bad management.

Most SDRs and BDRs are junior sellers. They lack know-how in most areas that are important in sales and business development. As a front-line manager, you are responsible for enabling your team. You also set the pace and need to check in with your team on a daily basis.

If you haven’t done this yet, here’s a list of reasons why your team doesn’t perform well


1. Reason for Failure: Lack of proper Training

SDRs and BDRs require proper training to understand the company's product or service offerings, the target audience, the sales process, and the tools they'll be using. Without adequate training, SDRs and BDRs may struggle to generate leads, qualify prospects, and close deals.

Onboarding & Training

Make sure you build an onboarding program everyone goes through. Every onboarding program should include the following enablement playbooks:

  1. Company and Industry Introduction

  2. Ideal Customer Profile including Target Accounts and Buyer Personas

  3. Value and Messaging Framework for various personas

  4. Battlecards why you are better than your competitors

  5. Outbound Process for BDRs

  6. Inbound Process for SDRs

  7. Goals & Expectations

  8. Email and Social Selling (e.g. LinkedIn) Templates

  9. Cold Calling Templates

  10. Objection Handling

  11. Tool Introductions (Outreach Software like Outreach, Salesloft, Lemlist and CRM Software like Hubspot, Salesforce, Pipedrive)

Furthermore, you should be providing your team with proper training. If you can do everything by yourself, that’s great, but absolutely not scalable. We recommend using software to build your playbooks, record your videos and provide the right content.

Training Playbooks

Make sure you provide the following video or in-person training playbooks:

  1. Sales Motivation & Sales Mindset

  2. Basics of Software Sales

  3. The ideal Day of your SDR or BDR

  4. How to do prospecting

  5. How to write emails

  6. How to do cold calls

  7. How to handle meetings

  8. How to hold demos

  9. How to sell with value instead of features

  10. Effective Time Management

  11. Effective Communication

  12. and many more

For all training playbooks make sure you have templates ready to adapt them to your needs.

Monitor & Coach

Providing your team with all relevant information and playbooks is great …

But … you have to also monitor the learning progress. Without holding your team accountable for doing the playbooks, they won’t be successful.

We recommend setting up a weekly session about learnings and monitoring the progress of your playbook completion.

2. Reason for Failure: Too high goals

Can goals be too ambitious? Yes, they can. Everyone wants to generate SAOs and Meetings ... but ... the goal should motivate your team and not demotivate them.

The last thing you want is junior sellers who become nervous about not hitting their targets. Your prospect will feel this nervousness immediately.

Especially junior sellers and junior employees want to perform in their job and do everything to hit their targets. But … if the targets are just too high your SDRs and BDRs might get nervous at first and later also burn out or quit their job.

Being overwhelmed and not seeing that they can hit their targets won’t make it better for them. So finding the right goals is essential.

“I pushed my team too hard in hitting the targets and forgetting about the essential playbooks they needed. But … the targets were just too high at this stage of the company. In certain regions, we didn’t have any coverage and they had the same goals as other reps in well-established markets.“, Gerald Zankl, former Director of Global Sales, Bitmovin

So take care of the goals you set as well as the activities how to reach them.

3. Reason for Failure:: Missing Product-Market-Fit, wrong Ideal Customer Profile, or missing Messaging

As a founder or experienced sales leader, you know what companies and people you have to target. You know what message resonates with which accounts and personas. But … if your team hasn’t heard any of these, they just won't succeed.

Most SDRs and BDRs have no industry and no sales experience at all when starting in their roles. As a founder you have to have a certain level of product market fit, otherwise, it doesn’t make sense to scale your sales efforts. You will be failing.

4. Reason for Failure: No structure and no expectations

If you don’t provide your team with the structure and playbooks they need to do their job well, don’t expect them to perform. Out of 10 SDRs and BDRs, there might be one or two who can do it without any structure, without any expectations, and without any formal onboarding and formal training.

But … the other 8 out of 10 need a clear structure and very clear expectations.

We recommend structuring the ideal day and making it a priority to focus on that ideal day.

If junior sales reps aren’t capable of effectively managing their time, make sure they join the office so you can help them as best as possible with structure and expectations.

5. Reason for Failure: No empathy for junior sellers

Yes, sales can be challenging.

Yes, sales are all about hitting numbers and helping other people to succeed with your solution.

Yes, as a leader it’s your job to enable and push people.

But … think also through your team’s view. It can be overwhelming in the first couple of months in a new job, with new responsibilities, learning how to sell, learning the industry, etc.

So help them as best as you can within the first 1-3 months to get productive and support them also after the first 1-3 months with critical education and important playbooks.

How to get empathy for SDRs and BDRs?

  • Talk openly with them

  • Let them share their concerns

  • Share helpful playbooks

  • Create a development plan for their professional skills

  • Have regular one-on-one meetings with them

  • Communicate often

Sales Representative - Reasons For Failure

1. Poor Communication Skills

Communication skills are crucial for SDRs since they need to be able to articulate the company's value proposition and engage with prospects effectively. If an SDR is unable to communicate effectively, they may fail to build rapport with potential clients, leading to fewer sales.

2. Ineffective Time Management

Time management is key to success in sales, as SDRs need to balance prospecting, lead generation, and follow-up activities. Poor time management can lead to missed opportunities, missed targets, and ultimately, failed sales.

3. Lack of Persistence

Sales development is often a numbers game, with a significant amount of rejection and failure before success. SDRs who lack persistence may give up too soon or fail to follow up with prospects, leading to lost opportunities and missed sales.

4. Inability to adapt

Sales development is an ever-changing landscape, and SDRs need to be able to adapt to new technologies, market conditions, and customer preferences. Failure to adapt can lead to missed opportunities, lost sales, and ultimately, failure in the role.

5. No true sales personality

SDRs and BDRs need certain traits and characteristics that are commonly associated with successful salespeople. If they don’t have this “true sales personality” it will be hard that they perform.

Here are some of the common traits that make up a true sales personality:

  1. Confidence: Successful salespeople are typically confident in their abilities, and they are not afraid to assert themselves in front of prospects.

  2. Resilience: Sales is a challenging profession, and it requires resilience to handle the constant rejection and disappointment that can come with the job. Successful salespeople are able to bounce back from setbacks and keep moving forward.

  3. Empathy: To be effective in sales, it's essential to be able to understand and relate to the needs and concerns of prospects. Empathy helps salespeople build rapport and establish trust with potential customers.

  4. Persuasiveness: Salespeople need to be able to persuade prospects to take action, whether it's making a purchase or setting up a meeting. The ability to present a compelling argument and convince others to take action is a crucial part of sales success.

  5. Adaptability: The sales environment is always changing, and successful salespeople need to be able to adapt to new situations, technologies, and customer needs. Adaptability helps salespeople stay ahead of the curve and find new ways to be successful.

Overall, a true sales personality is a combination of traits that enable a salesperson to connect with prospects, build relationships, and close deals. While not everyone has a natural affinity for sales, many of these traits can be developed through training and experience.

Bad SDR and BDR Performance

How to proceed with SDRs and BDRs who aren’t performing well?

That’s a question we get often asked by leading Sales and Business Development Managers. And … it’s a hard one.

If you have hired your first SDRs and BDRs, answering this question gets even harder.

Option A: No one of your SDRs and BDRs performs.

In that case, I strongly recommend you check your internal processes, internal playbooks, and the expectations you set for your team. Check in with your management team to identify the root cause. Often the cause can be missing information about the ideal customer profile, personas, or missing value and messaging framework.

Option B: Some of your team members perform, others don’t

In that case, coach and help the ones who aren’t performing with the right playbooks. Copy what works from others and check in often. Assign also mentors and buddies to make sure they get all the support they need.


Overall, sales development representatives can fail for various reasons, but with proper training, communication skills, time management, persistence, and adaptability, they can overcome these challenges and succeed in the role.


Here are some more sales resources that might be helpful:


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