You landed the job, you’re ready to put in the work, but how do you know which skills and habits to prioritize for success?
Sales development reps are in a unique position: They often have little to no experience in sales, but they’re the ones on the front line, prospecting for reps, putting in the sweat equity that will lay the groundwork for a prosperous future — not just for their organization, but for their own career. Frankly, it’s a complex role to be considered “entry level.”
If you are an SDR, you know to expect the usual speed bumps and challenges that come with acclimating to a new role. In the first few weeks, you’re inundated with information and trying to hang on to all of it. And while it’s admirable (and expected) that you’re itching to hop on the phones and prove yourself, you’ll actually benefit from taking a step back and strategizing first.
Instead of guessing which habits and skills will lead to successful relationships and Wolf of Wall Street levels of respect from your peers and managers, arm yourself with these seven tips for becoming a highly successful SDR. Follow them to the letter, and you’ll be dubbed the resident crusher before the office Christmas party.
1. Know your product inside and out
Spend the extra time to really understand the purpose and benefits of what you’re selling. Sounds simple, but it’s easy to get distracted by chasing leads while forgetting that the foundation of a robust pipeline is really in knowing — and implementing — basic best practices.
Believe in your product, become an expert on it, understand how to communicate its value, and I guarantee you’ll notice your prospecting calls becoming smoother.
2. Implement a process — and be a stickler with it
Sales development is cyclical, and like any task that is repetitive, success comes to those who build an efficient, replicable routine. Your weekly routine may differ from your colleagues, but that’s not what matters; what’s crucial is that you discipline yourself to set a schedule and stick to it. Schedule blocks of time for researching, prospecting, follow-up outreach, and so on, and get as granular as you like. Structure doesn’t have to be suffocating; it can help you find the winning formula.
Repetition may not be sexy, but it’s the foundation for your process and the most successful SDRs learn to love it.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions
There is a fine line between being pushy and asking a question calculated to elicit a certain response. When you’re on a call, you’re either running it or being run by the person on the other end. An effective SDR knows how to keep the ball in their court. Take control of your sales call by asking an off-the-wall question; something that is not intended to offend, or catch your prospect off balance, but one that may lead to them feeling a little flustered anyway.
For example, if you’re consulted to discuss strategies for re-invigorating a failing business, you may want to ask, “Have you considered retiring? What about getting another job? Closing your doors?” The prospect will either be curious about your insight and straight-shooting demeanor, or they’ll be turned off, and you’ll lose a prospect that might have been too proud to actually implement your advice or buy your product/service anyway. Again, don’t push too far, but don’t shy away from poignant questions.
Keep them on their toes (respectfully) and you may just turn into their trusted advisor.
4. Trick your anxiety into becoming curiosity
Starting out as an SDR can feel a lot like drinking from a firehose. The sheer amount of pressure and new information coming at you is enough to cause a panic attack. Instead of being crushed by the weight of anxiety, try to re-imagine it as curiosity, and crawl out from under it.
For instance, if you’re anxious about not getting enough replies, be curious about the reason; ask yourself if you should A/B test subject lines, or how you can engage another team to help streamline your outreach. It takes practice, but if you can train yourself to take action instead of fret, it’s a trick that you can apply to circumstances even outside the office. The best SDRs are constantly transforming their anxiety into real opportunities.
This may seem obvious, but there’s a difference between waiting to talk and truly hearing your prospect out. Asking thoughtful, needs-based questions and listening intently to their replies will help you uncover how your product or service can help them. It’ll also help you to disqualify a prospect that might not be a great match in the long run, saving you time and energy that can be redirected into more productive channels.
6. Fall in love with reporting
You did not get into sales for the thrill of the Excel sheet; no one did. But if you can make reporting a habit, you’ll be setting yourself up for success in the long run.
Producing a clean, crisp report is a great way to keep track of your own progress, because the numbers, as they say, don’t lie. A report is often the only concrete metric your team has to evaluate your performance. If you provide them with an easily digestible report, you’ll be able to prove your success quantitatively, keep track of your progress, and help forecast whether the business is on its way to hit its sales goals. If you’re tracking, that’s win/ win/ win.
7. Prioritize your time
Because it’s so easy for your day to get away from you, learning to prioritize your time is an indispensable skill, and one that successful SDRs implement regularly.
Ask your managers and sales reps when they have the most success reaching prospects, then block those hours out on the calendar. Learn to make the most of your work day by scheduling four hours for prospecting — via email, phone, or social outreach — and utilize the other four for meetings, training, and last-minute jaunts out for lunch with a friend. Own your time and avoid unnecessary scheduling compromises whenever possible.
There are many, many strategies for success as an SDR, and it’s never a bad idea to brainstorm with colleagues about practices that they’ve found helpful. Celebrate your victories and don’t let setbacks discourage you — it’s all part of the process.
And remember, if you’re ready for explosive growth by getting the right sales meetings, reach out to us at C-Level Partners. We’ll put you in front of the Right People, in the Right Role, Right Now.
Until next time…