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3 Lasting Lessons from Sales Development

6 min read
Dec. 1, 2015

From the time the sales development role was created, it has been described as the springboard for your career. But what I didn’t realize when I began my career as an SDR, was that the lessons I learned as an SDR would translate into future roles.

From the very first cold call, I knew the role could provide me skills to build my career.

After being an SDR for 11 months, I recently earned the opportunity to lead the Inbound SDR team. And looking back on my time over the past year, I’ve reflected on how much I grew, and how my time as a Sales Development Rep prepared me for my next step.

The number one thing I learned that still helps me in my new role is how to stay motivated. As an SDR, I had to find ways to motivate myself every day, and avoid sales development burnout. I’m now managing reps who were in the same place I once was, and I can take some of my tactics of motivation and drive to help these reps hit their numbers.

But I’m just the most recent Salesloft SDRs to get promoted out of the sales development role. I’m just one of a long line of Salesloft SDRs who have since made a huge impact in other areas of the company. I asked some of those former Sales Development Reps what was the one thing they learned in the position that has helped them be successful in their current role. Here’s 3 lasting lessons they shared:

Chris Smith – Account Executive

Chris was a Sales Development Rep at Salesloft for 12 months. He has the Salesloft record of 451 demos completed, and was pretty much an SDR rockstar. Chris is now crushing quota as an Account Executive — running the demos he used to schedule.

Through his SDR role, Chris learned to write “short, sweet, 1:1 emails that get responses, and how to ask bold and direct questions.” Here’s an example of one of his personalized emails:


Over time, Chris has learned to refine these two things, which has helped him close more deals in his AE role.

Chuck Jones – SDR Manager

Chuck was an SDR for 18 months — 9 months with What Counts and 9 months with Salesloft. Chuck was a consistent top performer, with a personal record of 261 completed demos in nine months. And among his sales development dreams… Chuck also plans to run for office one day.

When asked what his biggest take away from his role as an SDR was, he said,

[It’s] the importance of maintaining a daily schedule. Scheduling your day in a way that allows you to tackle tasks effectively (email responses, call blocks, breaks, etc.)” – Chuck Jones

With 1:1s all day long, and finding time to do administrative work, Chuck has had to use his skill of time management to maintain his daily schedule as an SDR Manager.

Want an example of a successful time management schedule? Check out this Day in the Life of an SDR infographic, or follow one of Salesloft’s current SDR rockstars, Angela Kirkland’s daily schedule:

“Start at 7AM- Prospect for 30 minutes and then take the next 45 min-1hr to build out prospect list for the day — cross referencing Salesforce, LinkedIn, and any other useful info on the prospect. Use this time to also eat breakfast, drink coffee, skim the news, clean up inbox, and see where daily demos stand.

Morning SCRUM at 8:50AM. After SCRUM, import prospect list to SFDC, then to the cadence and, from there, clean up the list (i.e. remove the Inc’s or LLC’s in company titles, remove the MBA’s from their name, etc.). Put the correct time zone for each.

Push out emails by 10-10:30AM. Once all emails are out, start dialing from which ever call step is the most backed up in the cadence. Check reminders for the day and execute.

Break for lunch around 12PM. Then, prospect again from 12:30-1PM. 1PM-5PM is reserved for calling and answering emails, and making sure demos go off and get completed in SFDC. Check reschedule list and try to contact people from that list daily. Take a look at the next day’s demos and make sure everyone has confirmed, and, if not, try to call them as a reminder.

Any admin or clean up tasks before leaving around 5:30-6PM… then start it all over the next day!”

 William Bond – Account Executive

Before being promoted to AE, William was a Salesloft SDR for 8 months. In those months as a Sales Development Rep, William established himself as one of the best cold callers, and is now a top performing closer. William has been complimented most on how he leads a conversation, whether on a demo or on a cold call.

What’s the most important lesson William learned as an SDR?

Learning the value of asking good (read: leading) questions, and letting the prospect come to the natural conclusion on their own. Listening more and talking less.” – William Bond

The one skill every sales rep should perfect is GREAT question asking. The goal is to ask questions that steer the conversation in a direction that uncovers problems you assume the prospect experiences. This helps them recognize the problem, and allows you to position your tool/service as the only reasonable solution.

Here are some of the questions William asks on his demos that help lead the prospect into valuable conversations:

  1. “Does your team follow a consistent process when reaching out to prospects?”
    • Goal: To either dig deeper into what that process looks like, or lead into conversation about the ineffectiveness of a lack of process and the importance of consistency.
  2. “How many prospects does each rep generally reach out to on a given day? What’s your conversion rate?”
    • Goal: To highlight the value of scalability. Knowing Salesloft will increase their efficiency, this question positions Salesloft in the context of their process.
  3. “How many touches per day do your reps generally make? Are they leaving voicemails, sending emails, etc.?”
    • Goal: To position the value of Salesloft, and individual features like “drop voicemail” and “local dial” more effectively. Even with their connectivity rates being low, I can leverage these features to show them a better return on their time investment with a call volume that remains the same.

“It’s less effective (if at all) to throw a bunch of features at a prospect [all at once], so the best strategy is to uncover pains by asking leading questions that will start a conversation and allow them to recognize the need for themselves.

From there, you have the information you need to position your product/service as the best possible solution to that pain and have a conversation that resonates.” -William Bond

We hope the lessons these former Sales Development Reps gained from their time in the role will help you as you scale your sales career. Please feel free to comment below and share any of your lasting lessons from sales development.