The most beneficial tool a sales development rep can leverage when first starting out is advice from a sales development veteran. Be it from a peer SDR, a mentor, or an industry thought leader, the advice earned from real-life experience in sales development is invaluable to a new rep.
A few weeks ago, SalesLoft SDR Tyler Bliss shared some of the things he wished he’d known when he began his career in sales development. To piggy-back on those wishes, we decided to hit the message boards and ask some industry experts a similar question to find out what they had to say:
What advice would you give to newly hired sales development reps?
Understanding a day in the life of your prospect is more important than knowing your solution in the beginning. Find out everything you can about what their job entails, what challenges they face, how they are measured, what are emerging trends, where they hang out on social, etc.
Once you know all that you can, have conversations with them that combine that information with how you can help them be more successful. If your management team is not providing that information to you, shame on them. Go get it yourself, as it will dramatically increase your success rate.
I’d tell them (and I do tell SDRs this quite often) that success leaves clues. Find the most successful newer reps — your peers who started 6 months before you who are the most successful — and ask them what they would have done differently to shorten their learning curve. Try to sit by peers who have a good attitude, who understand what it takes.
Second, don’t be too hard on yourself. No matter who starts in a new role, there is a learning curve. Read Agile Selling by Jill Konrath, on how to learn better and quicker. Be a student of sales — and don’t think you need to know everything before you get started.
Get on the phones, screw up, and learn from it.
Finally, I’d advise to find enjoyment in the day. Make up your own ways to have fun. For me, I would compete with myself. If I got one meeting my first week, I’d go for two the 2nd, and then eventually 2 per day. Don’t wait for your manager to challenge you – learn the ropes and find ways to challenge yourself to be 1% better every day.
Know your target prospect. Title, company size, industry, buying cycles, typical spend on something similar to your product, basically anything you can get your hands on.
Ask. That simple principle can get you so much additional information from gatekeepers and decision makers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask them for their contact info, the best day to call back… and even “who else should be involved in our next call?” One of my favorites is “So if you were to decide to move forward with something like this, when would you like to get started?” – it is an innocent ask, that gives you incredible insight into their plans and seriousness about buying.
Learn to love the phone.
Email is good, but magic happens when you are on the phone talking to prospects.
Listen to the top reps around you, then make your own version of their success, don’t just copy them, because that is most likely ‘not you’.
Begin planning how you are going to achieve (or, better yet, overachieve) your targets. Either one of the current top reps, or management, can give you some insights into what a typical sales cycle looks like for what you have to offer.
From this you can begin to calculate the number of deals you are going to need, the number of opportunities needed to get each deal, how many meetings to get each opportunity, how many calls to get each meeting, etc.
You need to come out of the gate with some success metrics to work towards.
Without this, the next thing you know is that 30 or 45 days have passed and you are now behind the curve on what you need to achieve. Plan the work… work the plan!
Any advice, feedback, criticism and failure is an opportunity to learn and improve. It’s not a personal attack on you, so don’t take it personally.
Learn from the top SDR’s on your team. You don’t have to copy them, but just take the things that work best with your personality and process.
Things will go wrong and things will change — embrace it. Anticipate what kind of adversity you might face and decide NOW how you will respond.
That way, if it ever happens, you can react quickly and stay on track. You are in an ever- changing environment; have a good process, but don’t get stuck in your ways. Be ready to adjust and pivot. Fear complacency, don’t ever get comfortable, always reinvent yourself, and always keep learning. You are only as good as your last sale, so prove yourself every day.
Get a spreadsheet, match the product, and set targets to the right audiences where you have every reason that they will need the product. The next step: figure out where you stand in the competition pools and filter out by price. Make friends within your internal organization and gain experiences that you may or may not be able to do from an organization standpoint. In less than one month time, you should to be able to estimate your success rate with a more realistic vision. Work smart.
Can’t get enough sales development advice? Sales guru Ralph Barsi gave five more pieces of advice to budding SDRs:
- Attitude is everything.
- Take notes at every opportunity, and use them to take action.
- Stay in the present.
- Decide today to be successful in your career.
- Add value and you will become valuable.
Dive deeper into these five tips for new sales development reps in Ralph’s 5 Pieces of Advice for People Starting Their Sales Career.
Looking for more advice from these experts and other industry thought leaders? Join us at Rainmaker2016 to take your career to the next level!