Finding the Success in Failures as an SDR

A Black and White Photo of a Man with His Face in His Hands Looking Sad


As an SDR, it is on you to learn, develop, and consistently demonstrate the basic capabilities of a successful sales development representative. Inevitably, you will have roadblocks and failures in this role, and you have to dig down within yourself to push past these discouraging moments. What tools are you going to use to push forward and not give up?


1. Making mistakes is not the problem, but not taking the opportunity to learn from them is.

It is natural to feel frustrated when making mistakes or failing at something. Taking time to step back and walk through what happened is necessary to identify where you went wrong. When you take a look at what went wrong, you can then create a new plan to tackle your to-do list. Then you can re-evaluate your goals and realign your strategies to obtain these goals. For example, did you get someone on the phone but you weren’t able to connect with them? Maybe you need to perfect your tone. Learn how talking to different roles within a company requires different flows of conversation. Overall, be flexible and go with it!


2. Focus on what you can control and let the rest go.

Take some time and write out your goals. Using your time as an SDR can help you down the road in multiple ways. The habits you set for yourself will become ingrained into your work ethic and help you hustle through your career. You can’t control if people answer the phone or if you are going to be able to speak to a decision-maker even if you do get someone on the phone. What you can control is your attitude when you are hitting roadblocks and using that positivity to succeed. Do not limit yourself; by doing so you are minimizing your goals and losing opportunities. You have the keys to succeed and it is on you to crush those goals.


3. It is better to try something new and suck at it than to not take any steps towards improvement at all.

With anything new, there’s a good chance you are going to suck your first go-round or two, but making consistent minor tweaks will help you eventually find your secret sauce. It’s reassuring to remember that everyone who is an expert at something now started as a novice. They had the guts to get over their fear of failure and try something new. Keeping track of small wins will help keep you motivated to keep pushing on. These wins, even if they are small, are indicators that you are succeeding. Did you get a decision-maker to call you back? High-five! Did you make your call and lead quota for the day? Booya!

Create a visual to keep at your desk and markdown your top three goals for the week or month. Update it as you hit your small wins as tangible proof that you are making strides. While keeping track of these wins is a great motivator, it’s also important to reflect on the failures of the week. Whether it’s with your manager or in a weekly team scrum, ask each other, “Where did I fail this week?” Sarah Blakely, billionaire CEO of Spanx, says the best career advice she received was from her father. He would sit her down and ask her, “Where did you fail this week?” Once she gave her answer, he would high-five her. Building an environment where it was okay to fail and learn from her mistakes gave her the confidence to try new things and fail. With over twenty years of experience, I like to say I have failed so many times that I am almost perfect. I have taken the defeats from my past and turned them into valuable lessons to help me get to where I am now.


4. Be consistent in the tactics that work.

When you find processes that work, take note of them. Write them down so you can keep track of trends and successes. The failures and successes you have as an SDR will stay with you throughout your career. It’s no secret that the turnover rate for SDRs is high, but the skills you will learn as an SDR can launch you into any role that you may want to enter. The tenacity and grit you build as an SDR will make you an incredibly valuable employee and leader. For example, do you want to own your own company someday? The character building you go through as an SDR will teach you profitable lessons that will help you go far in your career. The constant rejection and hearing the word “no” will help build resolve that will make you more tenacious and hungry for the next “yes”.


5. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask for help.

Ask your boss for the best practices that they found successful. If your boss isn’t the coaching type, seek out other mentors. Follow successful people in your industry on Linkedin and Twitter. If you have a specific question, people are usually willing to give advice or actionable tips. Read industry-specific blogs that give insights to your current job and the role you eventually want. Don’t ever stop learning or absorbing information. The skills you are learning as an SDR will take you far as an AE, and beyond.


At the end of the day, your success depends on you. If you take ownership of what you can control and put in the effort, you will see results. Keeping a flexible attitude and being able to pivot will help you go far as an SDR. Prepare to fail, embrace the suck, and learn from it. There is never a loss, only a lesson.

Aaron Browning is the Head of Sales at Frontspin and the self-proclaimed King of Failure.

Learn how you can put the conversation back into sales with FrontSpin.