Mike Lambert
President of Field Operations at SentryOne
Table of contents:

I’ve done it countless times: I’m expanding so I hire an AE to own the new territory, and I hire someone good. Someone with a history of crushing quota. Someone who has a future in the company and I foresee as an up-and-coming star.

But my high hopes quickly meet reality. The reality is that, more often than not, the AE struggles get a foothold in the new territory. It might be six months before they close their first deal, and maybe it’s a small one. They might eventually see success, but at what cost?

Fortunately, there’s a far less expensive, far more efficient way of expanding into new territories.

The BDR Bench

The key is focusing on BDRs instead of AEs. I call it the “BDR Bench.” The idea is that instead of sending in an expensive AE, I use a BDR to seed the territory. They build pipeline, generate leads, and get new opportunities. Once they hit a certain threshold, then and only then do I bring in an AE.

If I play my cards right, the AE will have more hot leads than they know what to do with. They’ll start closing deals right away, justifying me to bring in more AEs and invest further in the new territory. The expansion happens exponentially faster than the traditional method and at a fraction of the cost.

How Do You Motivate a Lonely BDR?

But there’s still a problem: how do you motivate a solitary BDR trying to penetrate a new territory? They don’t have any direct competition. They aren’t closing business so they don’t have the incentive of a commission, and they might not see immediate results as they initially struggle to gain a foothold in the new territory.

There’s a new way to motivate reps that I recently came across. SetSail is a company that uses micro-incentives to reward reps for building better sales habits. It’s worked wonders for my BDRs, especially when they’re on their own in a new territory.

It rewards them for doing the little things right. For instance, it gives them points when they’re able to get in touch with a director-level contact. It’s essentially a better way to run a SPIFF, but the difference is that it isn’t gameable. It doesn’t reward reps for the number of emails or calls they make. BDRs know how to game the system better than anyone.

Instead, SetSail rewards reps based on how the prospect responds. The BDRs have to optimize their messaging in a way to elicits responses and builds genuine demand rather than inflating their numbers with meaningless activity metrics.

Eye-popping Results

The results have been astounding. One of the biggest reasons I wanted SentryOne to try out SetSail was knowing that it already worked at companies like Dropbox, where they were able to achieve:

  • 34% more weighted net new pipeline
  • 67% more emails received from customers
  • 37% more meetings booked

Even more impressive has been their results with remote teams since the pandemic hit. At one customer, they’d seen a 25% decrease in meetings accepted after shelter in place. Once they launched with SetSail, however, they increased their meetings accepted by 40%, blowing their pre-COVID numbers out of the water.

I won’t get into SentryOne’s results quite yet, but we’ve been very impressed so far, and I have no doubt SetSail will be critical in helping us keep BDRs motivated as we continue our global expansion.


In my experience, SetSail’s incentives program combined with a BDR Bench is the best way to accelerate growth into new territories. If you haven’t heard of SetSail or haven’t checked them out yet, I highly recommend you go to their website to learn more.

In the meantime, feel free to get in touch with me on LinkedIn! I look forward to continuing the conversation.