A sales development representative (SDR) is responsible for generating pipeline, usually by cold calling C-level decision-makers. Their main responsibility is to get qualified sales meetings on the calendar.
Well, it’s not hard to make money as an SDR. Just show up, put in some effort, and you’ll do all right. But let’s be honest, no respectable person wants to be just all right or average.
If you want to be a great SDR — and if you’re reading this I suspect you do — then it’s going to take some hustle and know-how. Which is exactly what I’m sharing with you today.
But before we dive in I need to clear the air. I want you to know that even though the SDR is the ground-floor role in a sales org (most junior), it’s also the most important because without it there are no leads or sales opportunities. And it’s also where most sales leaders cut their teeth and learn the ropes. In other words, the SDR role is a training ground for true sales warriors.
So with that in mind, let’s get right into the 5 steps to becoming the top SDR in your industry.
1. Get Your Mind in the Game
First and foremost, you need to build the right mindset. I say “build” because this doesn’t happen overnight. I recommend that you listen to motivational speakers and become an avid reader of business and self-improvement books (audio books work too). The mind is a muscle that you have to work on daily. Get serious for 30-60 days, limit social media and junk entertainment, consume only high-quality content, and you’ll be unrecognizable (in a good way) within 60-90 days.
How do you know when you have a winning mindset? When you wake up in the morning hungry to dial, and you go to sleep at night satisfied with your accomplishments and grateful for everything you have. Get hungry. And get after it!
Practical application: Write down your “why manifesto” and read it every night and every morning. A why manifesto is a one page explanation of WHY you want to be the best SDR in the industry. The deeper the why, the more likely you are to achieve success. Write it out and read it daily.
2. Work Backwards From Success
Did you know you can reverse engineer your future success? I’ll explain. First ask yourself what success looks like to YOU. Do you want to buy a nice watch and a new car? Maybe you want to retire your mother and buy her a home. Or maybe you want to become a 7-figure earner. Whatever it is, just put the salary figure on paper and work backwards to find out what it will take to achieve it.
For instance, if you want to make $150K next year as an SDR, maybe you’ll need to set 30 meetings per month. To get 30 meetings per month, you need to have 150 conversations. To have 150 conversations, you need to dial 1,500 prospects. That’s about 75 calls per day. Are you tracking? We can forecast future success! Of course, keep in mind that the numbers above are hypothetical — only you know your commission structure.
Practical application: Focus on the top of the funnel (sales activities/cold calls) not the bottom of the funnel (meetings booked). The bottom of the funnel will take care of itself if you’re pouring leads into the top of the funnel. So commit to calling a minimum of 75 leads each day starting tomorrow.
3. Find a Mentor/Coach
Now it’s time to find the top-performing salesperson at your company and pick their brain. But don’t just ask them questions in passing; instead, take them for lunch or coffee and bring a notepad. Tell them you want to learn how to perform like the top 1%. Chances are they’ll share everything they know with you, and they may even take you under their wing and continue to coach you over time (if you ask!). This also works with sales leaders/managers and salespeople from other companies and even different industries. The point is to find the best and model their behavior.
Here’s the thing — every GREAT person, living or dead, had a coach. Every top-performing salesperson, athlete, actor, etc. had a teacher or coach who passed down their wisdom. And chances are, since you’re reading this, YOU will be that person for someone someday. But today, you must be the one open to receiving coaching.
Practical application: Identify a top-performer today and reach out to them. Introduce yourself with humility, but express that you’re hungry and have what it takes. This is the most important meeting you’ll set this year. So get to it!
4. Take Massive Action
There’s nothing left to do but take massive action. It’s time to cold call like an absolute beast. Hold yourself accountable, and before you go to sleep each night be sure to grade your day. How did you do? Was it an A+ effort or a C- effort? Either way, wake up the next morning and pick up the phones. Massive action + consistency = fortunes. Put in those 75-100 calls everyday and see what happens. You WILL succeed.
Practical application: Decide today that THIS is the day you step into your new reality as the best SDR at your company and the best SDR in the industry. And get to work. Use online tools like social media blockers, time chunking/pomodoro timers, and auto-dialers to improve efficiency and productivity. And start dialing! One other trick I use to take massive action is the 5-4-3-2-1 method.
5. Stay Hungry Over Time
A funny thing happens when people taste success: they get comfortable and complacent. It’s one thing to make $150,000/yr. in sales, but it’s another thing to make $200,000 the next year, $300,000 the year after that, and so on. Steady growth has to be your aim. Because remember, if you aren’t growing, you’re shrinking or dying. There’s no such thing as neutral. So get your feet off the desk and do what it takes to stay hungry.
Practical application: Your “Why” is going to change over time, it’s only natural. So every six months to a year be sure to revisit your “why” manifesto (the one you made in step 1) and edit as needed. You might have originally been motivated by nice clothes and a new car, but you will (hopefully) outgrow that in time. You might eventually want to write down things like “family” or “giving back” or “legacy” in your why manifesto. Just keep it fresh.
There comes a time in every SDR’s life when he (or she) must choose a path: the path of least resistance which is mediocrity, or the path of greatness. The path of least resistance is easy, but it leads to unfulfilled potential and a dissatisfied life. The path to greatness is difficult, but it leads to fulfillment and joy (and the money never hurts).
So which path will you choose? It’s a decision. You can decide to be the best SDR starting today. Just flip that switch in your mind, write it down, and begin making forward progress. Believe in yourself. You’ve got this.
Until next time…