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Good to Great: Mastering the Art of the SDR

Taj Mellor

Account Executive, Mid-Market & Enterprise

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Best PracticesSales
Published 02/22/23
4 minutes read

According to Zippia, there are over 665,000 Sales Development Reps in the US alone.

Out of the more than half a million SDRs out there hustling to drive revenue for their companies, how many do you think are truly GREAT?

Transferable Skills

One of the leaders that I look up to Asha Aravindakshan has a great book called Skills: The Common Denominator that’s packed with relatable stories demonstrating the value of transferable skills. I think that’s one of the keys to success.

Have you ever heard that you should work in retail or the service industry at least once in your life?

 There’s a reason that piece of advice comes up over and over. I can tell you from personal experience that the skills I learned and traits that were enhanced from working in the service industry are what helped me better understand what makes a great SDR. 

See, I was not always an SDR, nor did I think I’d ever be, especially in tech sales. It should go without saying that I now also believe everyone should try being an SDR at least once in their life.

When I started working in a restaurant serving table after table and yes, spilling a couple drinks along the way, I learned so much and met many people who influenced me. I learned more people skills, conversation skills and listening skills than ever imagined.

My main takeaways were how to be resourceful, manage my time, listen and lead the charge. I used those skills to manage 300+ attendee events and eventually sell and plan those events. In doing so I had the opportunity to work closely with leaders in each role and understand the mindset of CEOs, CMOs, and CFOs.

Key Traits to Cultivate

Whether you’re serving a big group dinner or trying to connect with a potential customer for a big account, even in the most stressful of situations, you’ll be most successful keeping an open mind and approaching each new scenario with a fresh outlook. 

As an SDR, having a fresh approach will help you learn from all of the not-interested prospects, mid-sentence hang-ups, voicemails as well as the wins of someone giving you the time of day.

 You need to master your day-to-day to be great, and there are five key traits you can cultivate to help you accomplish that.

  1. Time Management: Keep your inbox organized and your tasks prioritized. 
  2. Active Listening: Pay attention to explicit and implicit communication so you can recognize opportunities to dig deeper and gather additional info.
  3. Coachability: Study to refine skills and improve techniques—stay proactive in gathering feedback.
  4. Motivation: Constantly consume content and suggestions to become the best at what you do.
  5. Empathy: The ability to relate to your prospects on a human level helps you understand their needs.

Forming Good Habits

Nobody can force you to change—only you can truly make a shift in your mindset and work ethic.

It takes on average 66 days to form a habit. Life can get busy and life in Sales is on another level. But if you can spend the next two months working on just a few habits, you’ll be shocked at how much you can improve.

Thoughts: Managing your thoughts is easier said than done. However, you can start by writing everything down and dispersing into different buckets. This will help prioritize and assist with your approach when bringing them up in conversation. There is so much happening from day to day but to make the most of learnings, objections and wins you’ll want to cover your thoughts to help the rest of the team as well.

Workspace: Everyone and everything needs space. Space for your mouse to easily move, space for your notebook, water, laptop, dual monitor (this is a game changer) and anything that helps you express your personality. The level of organization in your workspace doesn’t define you of course, but it does impact your mentality.

Calendar: Just like your workspace, everything needs its own space, including your calendar. This is important especially since as an SDR, you’re booking meetings, having strategy sessions, 1:1s and customer calls. An organized calendar will enable you to look ahead, plan, prepare notes needed and make the most out of each meeting. Most meetings have action items and even better, they have takeaways to help guide you to be more successful so if you stay organized you will be able to prioritize easier.

At the end of the day, yes, you have a quota to reach, but dedicating time each week to mastering the above will help you go from a good SDR to a great SDR. 

However, you are human and your prospects are, too. It’s not only about booking the meeting and checking boxes off a list, but about connecting and growing your network. That network can be what stems your next opportunity, meeting or even introduction to new prospects.

I hope you can take a lot away from this and transform yourself from being just one of the 665,000 SDRs to being one of the greatest.

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