EPISODE 2: HOW TO LEAD PEERS AS A TEAM LEAD

Episode 2 Transcript

Alex: Hello and welcome to The SDRealness Podcast brought to you by SDRevolution, where we talk with sales development practitioners about their take on important topics in the space. I’m Alex Ellison, and here with me is my co-host, Greyson Fullbright.

Greyson: Hey. 

Alex: This month we’re focused on becoming a leader in the SCR role and today’s topic is about leading your peers as an SDR/team lead. Joining us today is Eddie Beqaj. I hopefully I pronounced that name right. senior executive at replace. Eddie, thank you so much for hopping on with us.

Eddie: You bet you nailed the name. I don’t know if anyone has got it that precisely on their first try. So well done. Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Alex: Yes, I was practicing in the mirror this morning. 

Eddie: Well you know that in sales, everything is about repetition and muscle memory. So your first step this morning was perfect.

[laugh]

Alex: Awesome. So to frame our conversation a bit Eddie, I really want to get your take on what it really means to be a team lead as an SDR you know, what, what are the responsibilities? What do they need to consider? What does it involve? And what does it actually look like to be successful when you do it?

Eddie: Yes, I mean, I think this is such an important topic, and we were talking about it offline earlier. But it’s one of the toughest steps in your career going from SDR to SDR team lead. I think the SDR position is one of the hardest, if not the hardest sales position out there to start with, but then going from being, you know, on a team of your peers to managing them or leading them is challenging. I think that you know, to set yourself up for success, there’s a few things that you really, really need to focus on.

And I would say that number one is staying organized. So we know that, you know, the SDR handoff to the AE is critical and crucial. So you got to be a CRM wizard you went from putting all your data into the CRM, and now you’re responsible for making sure that it’s all up to date and having all of your reps, you know, make that handoff as smooth as possible.

Number two is, you know, investing in yourself outside of work. So this is probably your first managerial role, if you want to call it that your leadership role. So where are you learning from that. So I think you got to, you know, read leadership books, there’s hundreds of thousands out there, and you can talk to anyone in the industry, and they’ll tell you which ones you should get on, listen to podcasts, you know, there’s no right way and making this step. It’s all about taking it as you can. And I think that the more research you do, the more opinions you take in, the better off you’ll be.

And then my third point would be, you know, your peers are now you know, you’re now managing your peers. And I think that creating that candidness and openness with them, and understanding exactly, you know, how you guys work from here, going forward is critical. So, I would say you know, in your first week, take start one on ones with all your peers, and get to know them and then also your direct reports now, just talk to them. Be open, be candid really understand and build that trust and, you know, build your relationship from what it was to what it’s going to be.

Alex: Yes, I love that I really think the one on one and setting those up with each individual team member you have is one of the biggest things you can do as a team lead. I mean, every relationship you have with each of those people is different. And so each one of them is going to change differently. So I think that’s a really good way to keep track of how you’re sort of making that transition from friend and from peer to manager and leader of these people. And without that sort of one on one feedback and open candid conversation. It’s hard to succeed in the role like that.

Eddie: Yes, and I think it’s just about keeping those communication lines open, right? being like, hey, like an open door policy. Come in, chat with me whenever you need to. I’m here to help you. I’m here to support you. You know, we succeed as a team when we all succeed together. So whether you’re an individual contributor, and at the end of the day, it’s a team game, right? I believe that sales and sports are so similar and you learn so much from being on a sports team, and that transitions over to the boardroom, if you want to call it that. And those qualities and characteristics stay true throughout your sales career, but specifically when you’re in that SDR role.

Alex: Yes, for sure. To point this in sort of a different direction, those are some awesome takes on and tips on what team leads can do when they’re moving into the role and how they can gain, you know, these different leadership skills that they’re going to need moving forward. What are some of the common mistakes that you see these SDR team lead hybrid roles making when they when they move into the role if they don’t exactly know what they’re doing?

Eddie: Yes. And we know that it’s not their fault, right? We know that, you know, 68% of managers have been individual contributors have never had leadership experience. So a lot of these people don’t necessarily want to be a manager, they kind of get thrown into this role, and they’re kind of you know, swimming upstream, if you will. So, you know, I replays, we know that 46% of reps are getting less than one hour of call coaching per month. And that’s a problem.

So you know, going back to my sports analogy, if you only you know, if your coaches only coaching you 50% of the time per month, you’re probably not going to win many games. So I think that one of the biggest common mistakes that gets made early is that you’re not reviewing your team’s calls and emails. I was talking to Michael to so from Chili Piper the other day, and he brought up call scoring and email scoring. And, you know, that’s so important to understand where you sit as an organization and where you can, you know, build on your successes and learn from your failures.

So I think that, you know, being able to give, find time to coach is so important. But then how do you coach like, what do you coach to and so then that’s where I think that you need to learn, you know, internal relations with your company, but also look at side for, you know, coaching companies that are out there, you know, places where you can go and find more information. You know, like there’s tons of sales training available, but it’s specific to what you are coaching to. And I think that’s where people get lost. You know, they’re saddlers, there’s challenger, there’s Miller Heiman. There’s great sales training out there. But how do you bring it back and find, you know, those values in which you’re going to coach to?

So I think that, you know, for a new team lead, you know, you got to have those coaching calls, and you can’t push them and use you know, your manager and understand how they do it, or how they’ve done it, and kind of, you know, build off that relationship as well. That makes sense? 

Greyson: Yes, absolutely. And I really love this idea that you put out of, you know, a lot of times people get put in positions of leadership without necessarily wanting or having skills for it. And I think that’s a natural progression to have just the sales career path, you know, you get put on the front lines and the whole goal is to move to be a team lead eventually closer and then you know, moving on to become a manager of sales team or maybe vice president down the line and you know, along the way, leadership kind of gets expected of those people but not necessarily like driven into their training driven into, you know, their organizational resources and how they level up. And I think that’s especially true for SDR teams, because these are generally entry level reps that you know, are just now sharpening and mastering those sales skills. And then as soon as they sharpen and master them, they kind of get put into this pressure position of like, “Okay, you’ve got the skills, now let’s see if you can actually like duplicate that to your team members,” and not only existing team members that you’ve known, but then the new ones that pop up and people who might be less are more skilled than you at different things.

So to kind of back up into some like general tips for someone who is let’s say that they’ve just become a team lead. They’ve got enough skills to where we can expect them to be able to know what to do. How can they help navigate, that kind of pure relationship when things might be tense, whether it be a more experienced rep, maybe someone who’s new and might have some challenges with training that, you know, a team lead might not be prepared for, what’s some advice that you can give for that?

Eddie: Yes. So I think there’s two points that you hit on there. I’m a big fan of learning by osmosis. So, you know, utilizing the people around you in your organization that have done it before you and kind of using them as a mentor mentee relationship. Listen, you just hit it on the head grace. And a lot of these people aren’t prepared for this next step in their career, right. Like you said, they’re crushing quota. They’re hammering out SDR calls and all of a sudden, they’re tapped on the shoulder to say, “Hey, now you got to run it.” It’s like whoa, well, I don’t have any experience doing that.

So I think that you know, using people in your in an inside your organization that you can kind of call in depend on to say, hey, like, I have this, you know, guy who is couple years older than me, and he’s got two years more experience than me, but I got the team lead role over him. And he’s kind of you know, holding a grudge or whatnot. How do you deal with that? So I think that you know, talking to your peers, in the industry is huge to help with that.

And then secondly, you touched on training and you know, being a call coaching software that replays is, we know that people leave companies for two reasons. One, they’re not supported in career development, or two, they’re not motivated. So if you know you’re not motivating your team, you got to look in the mirror and figure out a way to do it, and to how do you support them in career development? Well, it’s getting them to that next level. And if you have those candid conversations is it, “do you want to be an SDR team lead, is that your next goal?”

Because a lot of people don’t like I said earlier, a lot of people would happily be individual contributors for the rest of their life. And, and that’s great, like people, we need individual contributors just as much as we need VPS of sales. And to be honest, you know, in the SAS tech world right now, the average length of a VP of sales is 18 months. So I’m not sure that’s, you know, for everybody that wants to you know, kind of jump into that world whereas, you could be a rock star AE for 10 years at a company and just kill crush quota crush your calls. So I think it’s really about finding out what your team wants and where they see their career going. And a lot of the time, they’re not going to know right they’re one or two years into their SDR role, they don’t have enough experience or exposure across the board to really understand.

So then it’s giving them that ability to kind of test the waters or get a little taste of coaching or a little taste of leadership and see how they like it. And maybe they don’t, maybe they do, but at that point, you actually have a better idea of where they want to go with their career. I know that was a long winded answer for a simple question, but that was what came to mind.

Alex: No, I think that was that was a really good answer as it was, so appreciate it. I think that was an interesting point you make where it’s sort of assumed that people want to follow this SDR to team lead to a whatever trajectory and you’re right. That’s just not the case. Right. Like, I think one of the things when I was an SDR my-the company was had just started sort of putting in these rules to say like, hey, maybe we should ask if you actually want to be a team lead before we just say, oh, you’re like the most senior on the project you do? Well as an SDR, here you go, here’s the role. And I think that was a huge transition for the company to make because it said that they recognize there was talent, to be team leads, but also talent that wanted to go in another direction within the company. And so it really allowed them to take those people that didn’t want to be a team lead and see where else they could fit in within the organization down the road, things like that.

Eddie: Yes, and I’ve seen it a bunch of companies, I’ve worked at even changing departments like I’ve seen SDRs come in and realize that, hey, I don’t want to pound the phones all day, or I don’t want to send these emails, but the product team looks really cool. And so they transition over to the product team. And you know, you hire for certain qualities when you’re hiring for sales positions or any position for that matter. But I believe that culture and fit is number one. So if you get a person in your organization that fits your culture, and fits the way you guys do business, then you’re going to find a place for them to be whether that is you know, moving up as an individual contributor in there. leadership or new, another entirely different segment of the business.

Greyson: Yes, I totally agree. And so I wanted to close this out, Eddie with a final question because I know that you know, you have experience in sales development. You’re currently in AE. That also does, you know, your own prospecting, which I think is just so impressive. And kudos to that, you know, you’ve gone through a lot of these steps that I think you know, people who are new reps or maybe SDRs, that are starting to step up into that team lead role. I think a lot of people might be able to look up to where you’re at, and gain some knowledge and some tips on how they can improve things, how they can do it better, faster, and while you know, creating positive experiences for all the people and relationships that they build. So to close this out, because I know you’re such a unique person for this, you know, what are some top tips you would leave for an SDR who just got that team lead position and is expected to kind of run with it and make it successful?

Eddie: Yes, I mean, it’s a great question. I am in a unique position because you know, going back I’ve been in startups for the last seven years. But now it’s a start up with just my boss and myself. So prospecting falls on me, I feel like I were an SDR hat and AE hat and a leadership hat all in one, which is awesome. That’s why I took the role.

But I think that, you know, my advice to people that are in that role right now and looking to get into that team lead role is one, find a mentor, find someone that you can look up to, that you can call that you can, you know, you utilize at your disposal, to help you get to where you want to be, to would be, you know, really invest in yourself buying the time to invest in what you want out of what you’re doing. You know, a lot of people build their brand on LinkedIn, a lot of people are massive, like I said earlier readers or podcast listeners, but kind of, you know, take it all in and be a sponge, and then find your own path through all the knowledge that you’ve learned.

And I mean, three is just, you know, be yourself and don’t be afraid to fail. You know, someone told me once that if you have a 20% close rate, that means 80% of your days are going to be terrible. I don’t really like that, I think that you got to find happiness in that 20%. And if you get it to 22% or 25%, like, that’s a win. You know, you’re going to get hung up on, you’re going to get emails, you know, telling you to F off or what have you. So be prepared to, you know, feel uncomfortable, and don’t be afraid to fail, you’re going to make mistakes. And that’s only part of growing. So I would say, you know, that’s the biggest tip I can I can give and leave with you guys here.

Alex: Yes, I love it. And I mean, to continue your sports analogies from earlier, it’s like baseball. If you bat 300 consistently, you can easily make the Hall of Fame.

Eddie: Totally. You’re going to be a multimillionaire if you if you can bat 3.03 out of 10. If you get three out of 10 in sales, it’s a similar ballgame. And those guys don’t have a bad life, I would say.

Alex: Not at all. Awesome. 

Well, thank you so much for joining us today Eddie talking about being a leader in the team lead position for people listening or watching where can they find out more about you as a person and also about reading plays a company?

Eddie: Yes, I was just mentioning my LinkedIn brand I’ve been trying to level up my game I definitely don’t want to be a LinkedIn influencer as I call them but just trying to provide value back so you can find me on LinkedIn Eddie Beqaj or you can, you know, check out replays and we’re all over our website now LinkedIn as well there. 

Alex: Awesome. Sounds good. Well, thanks so much, Eddie. 

This has been Alex and Greyson for the SDRealness Podcast. Until next time SDRs, keep it real. 

Eddie: Thanks, guys.

 

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