EPISODE 25: DON'T WAIT TO BE TAUGHT, TEACH YOURSELF
Episode 25 Transcript
Alex: Hello, and welcome to the SDRealness Podcast brought to you by SDRevolution where we’re talking with sales development practitioners about their take on important topics in the space. As always, I’m Alex Ellison here with my co-host, Greyson Fullbright.
Greyson: What’s up, everybody.
Alex: So, this season’s theme for anyone who hasn’t tuned in is see action, take action, where we’re really choosing to dive into topics of sales development to learn specific tactics from experts who do it every day. So, today’s topic is all about being a proactive productive SDR who educates themselves in the role. Joining us to talk about this is Sam Morris, the Director of Sales Operations at Rhinogram, a virtual care platform that sells in the healthcare space. They focus on physician owners, practice managers, and director-level titles with their outreach. Sam, thank you so much for joining us today.
Samantha: Love to be here. Thanks, guys.
Greyson: Awesome. And to kind of frame the conversation, I love this topic because I feel like it’s almost a catch 22 for someone who finds themselves in an SDR role. Because as most of us know, the demographic for sales development and business development reps tends to bring in people who are generally newer sales. Sometimes and often just coming out of college and really just now entering into a professional world. And on that dime, you would expect that organizations need to support those people as they come into the role. And then on the same dime, or on the other side of the coin, sales development is one of the hardest jobs, especially in kind of the customer-facing realm where you’re talking to buyers who demand that you be sophisticated, that demand that you have a level or a certain level of business acumen and be able to navigate complicated conversations, to try to convince them to give your organization time. And I feel like that’s a very hard contrast, I think to make up for someone who’s in the SDR role.
We tend to hire people who are newer and kind of just getting started. And yet, we demand so much from SDRs coming in. So, I want to get your take because I know that you have been a frontline seller, I know that you’ve managed SDRs and are managing SDRs. And so you’re really on the ground here and know a lot about the mindsets of SDRs who need that support versus SDR who are kind of figuring out themselves. So, what is your take on the self-taught SDR versus somebody who is heavily supported by their team?
Samantha: Yeah. So, for me, I went from one industry entirely different to a new industry. I was in the restaurant industry for years. Out of college, worked as a bartender bar manager, did a couple of nightclubs, then I ended up being a GM of Uber, right. I ended up moving to Knoxville, Tennessee. And this is where I kind of applied to my old company and I actually thought it was a POS system for a restaurant just based off the name. So, I had no idea I was stepping into a whole other realm in the healthcare space. And also, I had no idea with the acronym BDR or SDR for at this point. So, I kind of just applied and just saw the sales development and I was like, oh, I can do that. I ran a restaurant. I know how to sell beer. I’ve talked to many people face-to-face, I got my [inaudible] stadiums, I got it at Saratoga racetrack. I could do anything. So, let me just apply. Go to the interview, find out that it’s this healthcare communication company. And I was like, oh my gosh, I haven’t stepped in foot of hospital in so long unless I had to go to the ER. So, I kind of had to like workaround. I’m on this interview, for the phone interview, googling the company and kind of just reading the website as I’m being asked questions. And I’m like, okay, this is the answer to this, this is the answer to this Oh, I see that you guys are the top in class. This is amazing. And kind of working my way and kind of like just getting my foot in the door.
And I had the opportunity at this point to join this company and be one of the first five BDRs there, which was awesome because I got to see how to develop a program from the beginning. To see what talent you needed, what type of personality it goes into an SDR, what you have to do on an everyday basis, and kind of learned from a really great manager who knew exactly what — they started many programs before, so it was awesome. The other thing was that the company never had this program and it was hard to see like having a beginning of sales based on a full cycle sale. And that was very hard to break into because you had all these enterprise reps and these inside sales reps are like I could do it myself. We don’t need these BDRs taking in these inbound, or like these outbound calls.
So, we were getting the scrape of the scrape lead list. I mean, like the ones that haven’t been touched in three to six months. Their emails were Gmails and Yahoo’s and just not like anything that can get us connected to these people, people who have not worked for the company for many years. So, what I did was we had all these great tools that no one was using. We had [inaudible] Phanta, we had ZoomInfo, we had SalesLoft, and it was kind of finding how you can take these tools and really utilize them to your advantage and find the right emails, find the right contacts. Go to definitive and do a run, where you do an Excel Sheet and do a V lookup, find out who the right person is, so you can get in contact with them. And that’s where I started to see success was to get the right individual on the phone.
And then it’s taking the different training that you have. And I’m not saying I had bad training at all. We had The Sales Development Playbook come in and actually teach us their ways. We had a great person from K1 Investment who taught us the sales techniques. And what you have to do is kind of take all those different selling styles and make it your own so that you have your own voice because you have to be authentic when you’re on the phone. But that’s kind of just like the basis of being self-taught is making it your own, making sure you can have your own individual voice, as well as the guidelines that are provided to you by your company.
Alex: Yeah. And that’s a really cool success story that you have, there coming in with no experience and really building your experience, your acumen from the ground up. But not every rep is like that, right? Were there other reps when you were there who maybe just like, kind of caught on [inaudible] your coattails or were there stories of failure, like a lot of mistakes being made by your peers, as you guys were trying to build up this sales development team?
Samantha: Yeah, of course. You’re going to get a list and you’re going to call this is your job, you’re not going to do anything outside of what your job description has. And I think that’s what sets different SDRs from those that get promoted within the company and those who just stay in the SDR seat. I think there’s a lot of people out there that kind of get into the sales role and they have this three to six-month rule in their head where they’re like, I only have to be a BDR for three to six months, and I’m going to be an AE. That’s what the company told me when they interviewed me. And people aren’t earning that AE position or that inside sales position. They’re just thinking it will be handed to them. And that’s the difference between being a leader or being someone that actually steps out of that little shell of 60 calls a day, 30 emails, and like five demos booked in a week. Hit different goals, have different aspirations. You want to be the top BDR. You want to make sure that when that promotion comes, there’s hands down no other person in the room they would think of for that position but you.
Greyson: Yeah, I completely agree. And I think this really brings up the idea of doing a job versus having a career. Because I mean, you hear it all the time and see it on social of ah, the SDR job, like I could do that so easy. Like, what are the complaints? Why so much drama about this, I could do the SDR job? And to a certain extent, they’re right. Because if you didn’t care about the outcomes that your company was outlining for you, if you didn’t care about your personal brand and the impact that your personal brand had on other people, then it would be relatively easy to do the job of the SDR. I mean, at basics, it’s pretty simple. You go through a target list, you are trying to find ways to connect with them, and you have a specific outcome that you have to dig out.
I think where the problem comes is people don’t realize what it’s actually like to be involved in the job of an SDR using your personal brand every day. Whether you have the answer or not, whether your brand is the best, or whether your product is the best or not. And you have to come off in an authentic way to try to convince real people and real professionals to spend their time with you. And I just feel like so many people underestimate that part of the SDR job. It’s not only that it’s hard. It’s not only that these people are coming in and they’re trying to do it new. But they’re honestly trying to come in here and they’re trying to make it a career. A lot of SDRs that I talked to, and I’ve heard stories of people that talk about bouncing between companies as an SDR every three to six months.
But a lot of them are really passionate about this and see a way forward to get into sales, either as an AE or as a manager. And I think that’s why this topic specifically is so important about what does it mean to be self-taught? And where really does the line get drawn about like the SDR’s responsibility versus the company’s responsibility? And so I wanted to kind of quickly transition into that and I wanted to get your perspective on this. In the lens of like maybe common mistakes or some challenges that you could think of an SDR might go through as they’re learning, where do you draw the line between what an SDR’s responsibility should be for what they should learn and what they should do versus the company? Where do you think that should mesh? And how do you think they can best work together so that the company isn’t babying them, and the SDR is effectively learning how to evolve themselves into a career professional?
Samantha: Yeah. That’s an excellent question. So, I think when you come into it, there’s going to be some companies that have this game plan built out. They’re going to pay for a third-party company to build an SDR workbook for them, they’re going to have these guidelines in plays of what you should say, day one, day two, what email three should have. And it’s just, that’s the book that they’re going to give the SDRs. I think those are order takers, I don’t think those are SDRs. I think those are people who are cold calling out and they have a script in front of them. And I can tell you, right now, they’re going to know on the other line, if you’re scripting something. Then you have SDRs, that take that Bible, read it, come up with their own cadence that is very, like it’s synced with it. But they’re able to develop it and kind of have those value propositions but have their voice attached to those value propositions.
Then you have the SDRs that go off the deep end and decide to do their own thing entirely, where they find little niches within the product, and they sell it via LinkedIn, social. They’ll find a way to kind of get around what the company values are, and just kind of get as many meetings as possible. So, you need to find that middle ground between what your voice is, what the company wants you to say, and also your style so that you’re comfortable doing it. Because this job is so uncomfortable. We’re going to get rejected 98% of the time. You’re going to get red-faced, and you can’t even see the person on the other side of the phone, because you’re just so embarrassed by what you just said. You’ve been calling this person for three weeks, they finally pick up the phone and you mess up your name. Like, it is one of the hardest jobs in the world. And until you do it, you really don’t understand it.
Just like, kind of — I’m interviewing right now. So, I’m talking to different candidates and it’s fun. I’m very blunt. My company is very much in its infancy, people haven’t heard of Rhinogram before. So, I’m like you’re going to hear never heard of them, click. And I was like, you have to get used to that because many doctors like, for us, physicians and in the medical field, we just went through COVID. Their lines are busy, they don’t have time for sales pitches. It is a hard job on top of being a hard job. So, you have to get ready for that rejection. So, it’s finding those little niches to get by the gatekeeper that make you comfortable. That do you have 27 seconds of your timeline might not work for you. So, you have to find your way to kind of get into those gatekeepers and those individuals. But, yeah.
Alex: Yeah. I really like that as an answer. Because it puts an interesting perspective on like, what should you do when you’re uncomfortable in the role, right? It happens every day, more or less, right? So, but I think you can sort of see that as a trigger for maybe these like lower-performing reps or like, I’m uncomfortable. I’m just going to stick to the script. I don’t know. I can’t do anything else. Right? Whereas you have the — probably the ones where you describe with that balance the best at taking and putting their own voice on it go, okay. Well, it was probably uncomfortable because this isn’t my voice. These aren’t my words. So, let me like if I can make myself a little more comfortable with the outreach, then hopefully that translates and makes the whole conversation a little bit more comfortable. Right
Samantha: Much easier. There was one voicemail that we had that was given to us that was like a storm is coming in and all your phone lines are down. What are you going to do? Give me a call back if you think that this [inaudible] to you. And I couldn’t get through like a storm is coming in without cracking up. But we had some reps that just stuck to the scripts and just did it verbatim and were able to get through it. But for me, I’m not a news reporter. I can’t do that without laughing. I also have a giant sense of humor where I can’t not laugh at everything. So, I just couldn’t do it.
Alex: I’m picturing it like it’s a movie that’s coming, a storm is coming. And you just dive into the pitch like it’s a 30-second trailer for a movie. I love it.
Greyson: Samantha, I actually want to flip the question towards the manager side because I feel like if you talk to most SDRs they want to learn. They want to be good. They want to hit quota, right? They all do. And I feel like that there’s two sides to this equation, making a great SDR team and one angle we’re always talking about is what managers can do to help empower not only new and training SDRs but the high-performing experienced ones. So, to kind of back up into maybe some mistakes that managers are making. What do you think, in your opinion, and in your experience managers might be missing, about an SDR that’s either got an opportunity to learn or maybe has a gap that they don’t even realize that might need to be filled? Because I understand self-teaching is important. But that’s why the managers there, right, really to like be those eyes of yours to help make it as successful as possible for them.
Samantha: So, I think one thing that I learned is, on my one on ones, I have a giant board. And I make them run, I have the rep actually run the meeting. I talk as little as possible, kind of like the opposite of being an SDR. I listen while you talk. So, I like to have them control that space. I’ll have a whiteboard in front of me, what I start with is your three positives for the week. What are the three best things that you did this week? Was it a phone call? Was it your talk time? Did you book more meetings than possible? Then I have three takeaways that you need to work on. So, I didn’t hit my call goal this week. I had two no-shows. I’m not going to hit — I don’t think I’m going to hit quota. And then we’ll go into how we’re going to break it down and work towards the next week. But I have them answer it. Because if you answer for them, they’re not going to develop.
So, you have to make sure that they are always answering the questions and also recycling it and repeating it back to you. Because if they don’t repeat it, it’s not going to become part of their everyday. Especially when you do call reviews, the first thing you ask them is what was the best part about this call. It could be the worst call in the world, it could have gotten hung up in three seconds and just say my tone. I thought my tone was great. Just get something out there that was positive about the call before we dive into why the call didn’t work out the way it did. And then have them answer why the call didn’t work. Have them come up with the objection. Don’t answer the objection for them. Make sure that they’re able to get it, make sure they’re able to reply it. And then say, if this call could have gone perfectly, what would you have said. And then do the call over and do it.
I like to call them shower thoughts. So, like when you’re in the shower later, and you have these arguments that you’re like, “Oh, I should have said this.” I like to call those the recaps of phone call shower thoughts. So, like make sure that you’re doing these calls, listening to them. And I think a lot of reps don’t listen to their calls. We have all these great tools. Listen to your calls. Who cares if you’re embarrassed? I hate the sound of my voice. Just listen, repeat, and that’s the only way you’re going to learn. You have to make the same 100 calls a day, get it out there. Listen to yourself, and I think you’ll be better. But I think the coaches, they need to, as much as it’s self-taught, I think they need to guide them in a way that will develop them to make them better.
Alex: Yeah, I like that. And at the end of the day, every rep, right, is a little bit different. And you probably are a little less hands-on with the ones that prove that they’re able to self-teach themselves. Right?
Samantha: Yeah. Exactly. And some are stubborn in their ways. I mean, SDR, there are a lot of awesome SDRs out there that jump from SDR role and they’re making bank. So, they could just stay at SDR role, they don’t need to be an AE. And they have their methodologies and you don’t need to coach them, you just sometimes need to touch them on some value crops or some product information. But they have it. They have the confidence, they’re ready to go on the phone. And there’s other apps that need to kind of find their voice and you can help them find their voice.
Greyson: Yeah, I really love that. All right, Samantha. So, to kind of close this out, I want to go through maybe any final tips that you might have for both sides of the audience. For maybe an SDR that is new and wanting to get better at teaching themselves how to sell or how to do the components of maybe even beyond the SDR role, maybe an AE role. And then on the same dime, for the managers out there. The managers that maybe are trying their best to do what they can do with the team. They have half the process in place and want to figure out how to bring about the best of the team that they have. Sorry, my words are jumbled up in this podcast. Do you have any final tips that you want to leave the audience on what it means really to be a self-educated and kind of self-driven SDR that teaches themselves about what it means to sell?
Samantha: I want to say the most basic thing in the entire world but always be learning. There is always a free webinar. There’s always a free session. There’s always a free this, that, and another thing. You don’t have to pay for most of the tools to be an expert in or an admin in it. You just do the test. Find out how to do it. Look at all the tools that you have in front of you and learn the ins and outs of it. Make sure that you are subscribed to a newsletter within your industry. And that’s the first thing you do in the morning is read that newsletter so you know what’s going on. Have, as silly as it sounds, if weather is important for your job, check the weather channel [inaudible]. Like, make sure that you live where you breathe. So, if you have a certain amount of states, you know everything politically, I’m going to say weather again. Weather, again, news-related, just make sure you know everything within that territory. And absolutely learn about your competition and understand what’s going on in the market entirely. Always be learning. Have your block before your morning stand up, be your education stand up, just so you know what’s going on.
And then for managers, make it fun for your reps. It’s so uncomfortable being in a one-on-one session, every time you go in it, you think you’re getting fired sometimes if you’re not having a good week. It’s very hard being in sales. Remember, when you sign on the other side of the table, make it so it’s a good time for them and also developing. Have them learn. Come with great recordings just in case they only come with bad ones to your one-on-one. And then when it comes to stand-ups, have some fun days with stand-ups. I had these — I worked with two great managers and we used to do on Mondays and Fridays on the great debates. And they want to be on any topic that had to do with our industry. But it was fun to see our reps kind of compete with like, what’s better, pizza versus pasta? And one would take the pasta side, one would take the pizza side. And then they would have teams of going back and forth of like what was better, and then the managers would decide who won the debate. But it was a good way to get you talking, engaged, fired up, and ready to go on for the day. But just keep people engaged, make it fun, and always be learning.
Alex: Awesome. Awesome. I love all that advice. Sam, thank you so much for joining us today to talk about A, how to be a self-taught SDR and B, how to enable those types of SDRs as a manager. If people want to get in touch with you or learn more about you or Rhinogram, where can they find you?
Samantha: Oh, yeah. I’m on LinkedIn, Samantha Morris. You can also email me at Samantha @ Rhinogram.com and then Rhinogram.com is our website. And if you’re an SDR looking for a new role, contact me.
Alex: There you go.
Greyson: Hey, hey.
Samantha: Little plug at the end.
Alex: [inaudible] first. Awesome. This has been Alex and Greyson for the SDRealness Podcast. Until next time, SDRs, keep it real.