It’s Valentine’s Day season, SDR leaders.

And depending on whether or not you participate in our annual, ritualized and oft-maligned celebration of love, you’ve spent some time this month picking out a thoughtful gift for your significant other, buying flowers for a parent, or impulse buying chocolates at your local Walgreens (guilty).

Most likely of all—you’ve been stressing about Valentine’s Day in some way.

Your SDRs are no different. And some of them may spend the latter part of this week preoccupied, bummed out or vaguely irritated at their recent bank account activity, due to this illustrious holiday.

Which is why February is the perfect time to show your SDRs a little love. It’s cold and dreary. It’s right after a polarizing holiday. And therefore, it’s the perfect time to show some extra love to your SDRs to keep their spirits up.

To combat the late-February malaise, here’s one actionable, short-term tactic and one strategic, long-term program I recommend implementing to make SDRs feel the love and perform better than ever.

Tactic: Do Monday 1:1’s With Personalized Thank Yous

I don’t care how long it takes to draw these up or how gritty your SDR team seems.

Writing a personalized “Thank You” letter to each SDR, sealing it in a closed envelope and giving it to them at the end of a Monday 1:1 meeting for later reading is going to have a bigger impact than you think.

I did this a few months ago with our entire team (SDRs included) at Ambition, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done as CSO.

I highly recommend trying it out with your SDR team, provided you follow a couple key measures, which I’ll go through blow by blow.

#1. Content

Each letter should be long enough (and personalized enough) to show thoughtfulness and unique appreciation for each SDR.

Five or six sentences for each SDR is enough, as long as you make them count. Avoid generic filler. Talk about how that person has grown, made an impact on you and benefited your company. Discuss how you envision him or her continuing to do so in the future.

In other words, generally follow these two rules: Be heartfelt. Be authentic.

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#2. Style

Start with the card itself. Try to find the sweet spot between “too Hallmark” and “too professional.” A V-Day card from the local pharmacy isn’t what I’d call appropriate. Typing the thank you out on company letterhead could work, provided it includes a personal touch (ex. a signature and scribbled P.S.).

The classic “thank you” card is probably your best. I gave each member of our company a handwritten note on a classic, gray “thank you” card a few months back and felt it carried the right mixture of personalization and professionalism.

#3. Timing

Give each SDR his or her “thank you” card at the close of the 1:1 meeting, with the instruction to wait to read it until getting home.

This fulfills two purposes: 1) It’s a lot more impactful to read a “thank you” card in solitude, rather than surrounded by your peers or (especially) in front of the person who gave it to you. 2) It prevents the contents of each “thank you” card from becoming the subject of office discussion, which removes the intimacy of its message and devalues the gesture.

Seriously, try giving “thank you” cards. I’m as unsentimental as they come—and I was shocked at how much I enjoyed writing individual notes to our team – and how much they genuinely seemed to enjoy them. You and your SDRs will feel likewise.

Strategy: Create a New Recognition Program

The mid-February doldrums is the perfect time to offer up a new employee recognition program that hinges on being TAPPID:

  1. Timely
  2. Appropriate
  3. Public
  4. Personalized
  5. Incentivized
  6. Data-Driven

How you set up the program is up to you – as long as it fits your organization and follows the TAPPID model of recognition.

Let’s break down each facet of TAPPID one-by-one.

Timely

Providing timely recognition to your SDRs is something we’ve harped upon for a while at Ambition.

The longer the time lapse between an SDR achievement and your acknowledgment of it, the less impact your subsequent recognition will have as positive reinforcement.

Providing timely recognition is becoming easier and easier (Ambition creates automated alerts of achievements, for example).

I advise managers to make providing timely recognition a top priority this year.

Your SDRs are all on social media. 15 minutes after they post a major life event on Facebook or Instagram, they have 100 likes. Fair or not, that’s what you’re competing with in 2016.

Appropriate

Nothing is worse than a nominal gesture of “appreciation” from an out-of-touch manager.

Manager: “Whoa, Eric just hit 75 phone calls on the day, you guys! That’s called setting the example!”

Disgruntled SDR: “Alyssa just set up her 5th meeting today (the team’s daily average is 1.2).

Manager: “Oh … wow, great work Alyssa!”

Appropriateness is all about preserving the integrity of the recognition you provide. Managers should stay on top of currents trends in benchmarks and performance, so as to reward those truly deserving.

Public

Ever heard the phrase, “Praise in public, rebuke in private?” It applies directly to SDR recognition.

With that said, by all means feel free to follow up a public recognition of SDR achievement with a private “Attaboy!” to the deserving party.

Personalized

Anything is better than a generic “Great job, [name]!” Add a little extra ‘oomph’ to the moment and deliver the recognition in a way that is personal to the SDR.

Don’t underestimate the importance of personalizing recognition. One of the coolest things our platform does is allow users to select YouTube clips as their own, custom “Ambition Anthems.” When an SDR on Ambition scores a major achievement, he or she celebrates by having that clip automatically start playing on Ambition TV (for a real-life example, watch this clip).

Incentivized

We’ve recently covered the topic of SDR incentives both on the Ambition Blog and here on the KiteDesk blog, but to give you the condensed version:

“Say ‘no’ to gift cards. Say ‘yes’ to experiential, customizable performance incentives.”

When it comes to recognition, the right approach is to go frequent, fast, public, and personalized with minor wins (ex. hitting a daily call benchmark), infrequent, fast, public, personalized, and memorably incentivized with major wins.

The key term when it comes to major wins? “Memorable.” Something epic, unique, and, ideally, personalized to the individual. For a great service that accomplishes all of the foregoing, check out BlueBoard.

Data-Driven

Obvious but worth reiterating. Perhaps the most important thing to remember here is to create a consistency of focus.

Keeping a laser-like focus on SDR performance data as the end-all-be-all of recognition is how you build a sales culture with that same, laser-like focus on hitting their numbers.

Again, how you build your TAPPID program is up to you. For some great real-life examples of SDR recognition programs, check out these two articles from the Harvard Business Review and USA Today.

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The Benefits of Showing Your SDRs Some Love

Just to wrap up, it’s worth going over a few of the biggest benefits you’ll get from doling out 1:1 “Thank You” notes or creating your own “TAPPID” recognition program.

Foremost, Millennial SDRs leave (and more importantly, stay loyal to) their manager, not their company. They crave feedback. They’re more engaged after receiving positive reinforcement. And they care more about how valued you make them feel (beyond compensation) than ever before.

So show some SDR love this February. Write some “thank you” cards. Create your TAPPID program. Whatever it is, your whole sales organization will stand to benefit from it.