First time SDR: five things to know to get started

Being the new kid on the block can be daunting. But fret not, we’ve got you covered. Let’s start off with the basics.

SDR stands for ‘sales development representative’. And this means, rather than closing deals – your focus will be on creating opportunities for a sale to happen (“developing the sales”). Once you determine a good fit, it’ll be your job to move them through the pipeline.

While this sounds simple enough, the actual day-to-day workflow can feel chaotic and overwhelming for the new SDR. Think

  • truck loads of research, calls, and emails
  • follow-ups, presentations,
  • targets given to you by your team leader, and through it all,
  • a mounting pressure for results.

You’re likely to face rejection a dozen times before lunch, your colleagues are most often your competitors and monthly targets loom larger than Godzilla on the horizon

However, successful SDRs will tell you to tune out the noise and master this essential set of hard and soft skills to drive you forward. Here we go:

1. Find your groove: 

Get comfortable in a workflow that makes you feel good. This is best done by exploring different ways to manage and organize each day. Pay attention to practices bringing in small wins. Don’t be shy to ask well meaning peers what works for them. Audit where most of your time is being spent and what makes you feel stuck. Understand that meetings don’t meet targets and a string of emails doesn’t necessarily lead to a quality lead. Sales is a fast-paced game and the rules are dynamic and fluid. As an SDR, your productivity is entirely in your hands.

2. Know when to listen and when to talk

This might be one of those unlearning moments. Before you got into the industry, you might have perceived much of the job to be about pitches, sales calls, and long wound presentations about the features of your product. While all this is required, connecting to people is best done by letting them talk about themselves. Welcome the pauses over a phone call, to create room for your prospect to tell you about who they are and what they do. Effective selling is best led by active listening, engaging and building a rapport. 

3. Avoid sounding like a salesperson:

While this might sound counterintuitive, it is highly effective in relationship building. For instance, skip the expected yes or no questions like: ‘Are you having a good day?’ And instead, navigate the conversation with more open-ended questions that show genuine interest in your prospect such as ‘What does a day in your shoes look like?’ Another useful tip is to shift the focus of a presentation from spiel on product features to specific pain points your product can help solve.

4. Bookmark resources:

Early in the game, it’s important to keep tools that can help you master your sales technique like a training lesson from your onboarding or a product file you need to read within easy access. Systematize your phone, laptop, and workspace to keep distractions to absolute minimum. Anything that comes in the way of leveling up your journey is expensive to afford.

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5. Follow up:

This is often where a sales development representative can slip. Making a great first impression, after all, is only the beginning of the story. And choosing not to build on a potential prospect because they’re not ready to buy just yet could well be a lack of foresight. HubSpot Account Manager, Carl Ferreira makes a good point when he says, “Only a very small percentage of your territory is in an active buying cycle and looking for your product. That said, most of the companies you talk to will be looking to buy a product like yours in the next 12 months, so instead of pushing for a meeting, try to gather some timeline information.” Source 

So yes, it can be a jungle out there. But with these sales skills and some acquired resilience in your arsenal, you could be singing Hakuna Matata to your sales performance management appraisal meeting by the end of this quarter.