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Develop the Sales Action Habit for Success as an SDR

7 min read
Oct. 3, 2016

This post was written by Manny Alamwala, a Sales Development Rep at Vision Critical in Toronto and creator of The Sales Journal. His personal experience in the role of business development has taught him the importance of developing the sales action habit for success as an SDR. Read more below from Manny and his advice for Sales Motivation Monday.

My experience as an SDR has been unlike any other experience I’ve had in my professional life. In this role, you find out who you are and what you’re capable of — all in a short amount of time. There’ll be plenty of times on the journey where you feel pushed outside of your comfort zone — and for an introvert, like myself, the idea of a cold conversations was mentally and physically draining.

My quiet and curious nature sparked an internal question: what separates the extraordinary reps from the average? I read, I watched, I asked, I listened, and the answer was simple: focused action. Doing the right things at the right time.

But if it’s so simple, then why isn’t everyone doing it that way, and exceeding quotas like it is raining prospects? As my favorite personal development speaker Jim Rohn says, becoming extraordinary is “simple, but not easy.”

Why We Avoid Focused Action

To become successful as an SDR, the right action steps required are uncomfortable. In this role, we’re faced with more rejection before 10am than most of our friends face in their lifetime. It can be easy to avoid the hardships and continue to drift along.

“It is easier to adjust ourselves to the hardships of a poor living than it is to adjust ourselves to the hardships of making a better one.”

The major contributing factors of this avoidance is fear, lack of self-belief, and procrastination. We can get locked into a chicken-or-the-egg scenario, where fear breeds inaction, and inaction breeds fear. We, as humans, are pleasure seekers — especially in the digital era we live in now. We’re accustomed to getting things easy (and right away) and we seek that dopamine release faster and faster.

Have you ever found yourself switching quickly from task to task, or app to app, or checking a message right when it hits your inbox? Studies show that when we switch to a new task, our brains get a shot of that sweet ol’ pleasure chemical. Which tasks will we switch to when it comes time pick up the phone and try to book a meeting? Most likely, the one that provides the least resistance.

How I Developed the Action Habit

We know the extraordinary reps take massive focused action, and do the hard things in the present that will provide the results in the future.

“A week of neglect can cause you a year in repair.” – Jim Rohn

With the desire to do well, here’s how I developed the sales action habit to help me hit my goals:

“People form habits and habits form futures. If you do not deliberately form good habits, then unconsciously you will form bad ones. You are the kind of person you are because you have formed the habit of being that kind of person, and the only way you can change is through habit.”


The basis for all your actions is your purpose. A strong purpose is the fuel to your action engine — it’s why you do what you do. Your purpose needs to be so strong, that when you see it and think about it, you’re moved emotionally to take action.

The first mistake I made here was having a purpose that was too vague. I had a purpose to be successful and to make lots of money. I’m sure most of us want this, but it becomes infinitely more powerful when we dig deeper and figure out why want to be successful. Is it to help your parents retire? Is it to pay for your children’s education? Is it to fund a new hospital?

“If it’s a big purpose, you will be big in its accomplishment. If it’s an unselfish purpose, you will be unselfish in accomplishing it.”

Questions to ask yourself:

What do I want to accomplish? (Take the first answer and think bigger!)
Why do I want what I want?


The most valuable resource we have is also the most limited: time. Have you ever wondered where the days of the week went? Have you ever felt that summer just started and now it is winter? Time can seem to slip away from us.

There will be a lot of activities that compete to take up your time. It’s your responsibility to be the gatekeeper. This is the part where you need to start becoming comfortable with the concept of politely declining tasks that don’t align with your purpose.

I understand that there may be tasks that you can’t refuse regarding family, work and friends. However, we can always find time when we look at what we do closely. Spend 2 hours watching TV per day? Cut it down to 1 and you get 7 hours per week to work on your future.

Questions to ask yourself:

Does this task align with my purpose?
What non-value added activities can I cut from daily tasks?


Willpower takes up a lot of our mental energy. If we are trying to lose weight and our fridge is stocked with cakes, we will run out of willpower, eventually, and cave in. Trying to focus on work and the big game is on the TV in the same room, eventually we’ll start watching the game.

Our environment plays a big part on who we are and what we do. One thing I’ve done to set up up my environment is write down my purpose on a paper and stick it to the side of my computer screen. I put my cell phone in my bag when at my desk if I don’t need it (and most of the time, I don’t really need it).

Questions to ask yourself?

Am I constantly distracted in my current environment?
In what environments am I the most focused?


I have strong purpose to kick me into action, I prioritized the tasks I need to do and my environment is a place where I can focus. Now, all there is left to do is use that time I set for myself efficiently.

I noticed at the bookstore, several types of journals to help us become more productive in our personal lives. As an SDR, there are many common activities that we do daily that leads to success. So, I created a journal for SDRs, such as myself, to become more productive and focused in our actions. One example is when I gamify making calls. I made it a challenge for myself to hit X amount of call when I blocked out time for that activity.

Questions to ask yourself?

What’s the one thing I need to get accomplished today?
What’s the hardest task?

Sales is hard. Being an SDR is even harder. There are a few who see massive success and seem to be “lucky.”

However, there are no secrets to the success of high achievers. Luck favors those who take action. Simple. Practicing focused action everyday will put you in the same boat as the select elite over time. It’s not easy, but everyone can do it. Develop a strong purpose, prioritize what you need to do, create an environment that helps you focus, and use the time you have to give it all you got.

Stay tuned for more Sales Motivation Monday posts to keep you, the Sales Development Rep, motivated and encouraged to make the most of your role as the crucial first step in the sales process. Download our Sales Development Playbook today to learn more!