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Sales development done right with Lars Nilsson

ProfitWell Nov 29 2022

We all want to get on the rollercoaster. And if you were a particular type of person, you could skirt the rules and jump the queue, but then you’re risking all sorts of ethical and practical troubles. It can be pretty unpleasant standing in the hot sun, sweat dripping off your brow, regretting your decision just to find amusement. In the end, you get to go on a rollercoaster and for most folks that’s a fun time. But what if it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? What if someone could wait in line for you?

Meet the sales development representative, one of the unsung heroes of B2B SaaS. In the sales cycle, they’re the ones waiting in line trying to figure out which customers are best fits for Account Executives to close. Typically this is a stepping stone role to becoming an account executive, but it’s sort of a rite of passage. It’s oftentimes a pretty thankless job, and while it’s not a matter of life and death, it can, at times, be as unpleasant as that sweltering wait in an unshaded queue.

Today’s guest, Lars Nilsson, knows a thing or two about what it takes to get the most out of your sales development team, especially the human element that some can gloss over. In this episode, Lars Nilsson gave us a crash course on sales training, onboarding and enablement, and an inside look on how he personally mentors sales teams and transforms them into sales sharks — even those that come from zero sales backgrounds.


Listen now 🎧







Turns out that the hardest part of closing any deal is finding it.”    


                                                                                          –Lars Nilsson






Key term:

Sales development representative (SDR) 

Sales development representatives are also known as business development representatives, account development representatives, and revenue development representatives. 

SDRs are sales representatives whose role is to prospect and qualify leads, both inbound and outbound. They create a quality pipeline for sellers or account executives and provide the first connection that they’ll have with a prospect. 


What to do today: 

  • Follow Lars Nilsson.
  • Schedule a time to meet with your sales teams to discuss your current SDR structure and onboarding process.

What to do next quarter:

Start by evaluating your SDR onboarding and training process and then either optimize it or build it from scratch, so that it's strictly SDR focused and includes growth and development with a clear career path. The job of an SDR is an incredibly important one and is proven to help convert more leads, but the success of your SDRs begins with a strong onboarding process that is dedicated specifically to them. 

Most onboarding processes tend to lump together all departments and might include product training, company culture training, etc. But the actual role-specific training is placed on the hiring manager. 

Snowflake has taken a different approach in which it takes operations, enablement, and training off of the shoulders of the frontline SDR leaders and created an SDR Ops and Enablement organization. They’re responsible for the selection of all tools and technologies that their SDRs will use — including best practices, training, and playbooks to guide them in account-based marketing and sales development principles. 

Snowflake recently launched its new Sales development academy and Lars shared some details of what the academy offers and what it entails to help SDRs reach a higher level of knowledge and experience, as well as a clear career path to work towards. 

Snowflake's 4-week foundational sales bootcamp

During this four-week onboarding process there are no quotas assigned. It's a period intended solely for reading, listening, and learning from internal and external professionals, as well as cold-call trainers.

  • Branding and messaging — this includes branding themselves and the content targeted at their personas.
  • Email training — understand how to write a really well executed and personalized email. 
  • Cold calling — training includes mock calls and real prospect calls.
  • Touch pattern campaigns — this might include 13 calls, seven emails, a Sendoso send, and maybe a LinkedIn touch or outreach.

Once the four-week program is completed they are officially an SDR. They get set up with their account executives and start to learn about the list of accounts their AEs care about. 


The last three months of the onboarding experience at Snowflake is a program called Snowbound. It's jointly delivered, but executed by their Corporate Account Executive team or quarter-carrying Inside Sales team. It's a 150-plus organization of Snowflake and is the career path that an SDR will take for 18 months. Once completed they get an opportunity to interview for a Corporate Accounting Executive role. 

Additionally, Snowflake offers a Senior SDR role that comes with an increase in compensation and a possible equity grant and other opportunities to continue developing their skills. However, Snowflake graduates anywhere from 20 to 30 SDRs a quarter into other roles, and 80% of them go into the Corporate Accounting Executive role.

Furthermore, Snowflake also offers Sales Engineering onboarding, enablement, and training for people that are more technically minded that have fallen in love with the product, and offer field marketing, account-based marketing, and product account management roles.   

Click here for more information on Snowflake's Sales Development Academy.


What to do within the next year? 

Implement your new SDR onboarding and training program. As with anything, monitor and evaluate the output. Every company and culture is different and what works for one company may not work for yours. So continually gather feedback from your SDRs, trainers, and AEs, and modify and/or optimize accordingly. 


Who should own this? 

Sales leadership.


Who's up next week?

Next week Bitly CMO, Tara Robertson, talks to us about how to connect emotion and value to drive results, and all things marketing.

Do us a favor?

Part of the way we measure success is by seeing if our content is shareable. If you got value from this episode and write up, we'd appreciate a share on Twitter or LinkedIn.


This is a Paddle production—the first media network dedicated entirely to the SaaS and subscription space.


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