EPISODE 3: MANAGING UP AS AN SDR

Episode 3 Transcript

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

Alex: Hey, Greyson, how you doing?

Greyson: This month we’re focused on becoming a leader in the SDR role and today’s topic is about what it means to manage up as an SDR. And joining us today is Elizabeth Beggs, who’s an SDR at AirCall, which is a cloud-based phone solution for customer-facing teams and is a startup leading innovation in the sales development profession. Elizabeth, thank you so much for hopping on with us today.

Elizabeth: Yes, thank you all for having me. It’s a pleasure first podcast. So it’s exciting.

Alex: Glad, you’re so excited. So to sort of start this off and frame the conversation. Elizabeth would be great to get your take on what exactly it means to manage up as an SDR. I think it’s something that is really unique and cool that you guys are doing already, our call that a lot of us your teams don’t really do or understand all the way. So to you, what does it mean, what does it involve, and why is it important for you as an SDR?

Elizabeth: Yes, definitely. So to start off, I would like to define what managing up means, to me at least. I think sometimes it kind of has a negative connotation, you know, you’re standing up speaking your own mind, I would like to take more of the positive approach where you share your values and your insight and experiences to kind of help the organization and a whole I think it’d be really powerful if you utilize the right techniques and right tactics.

Alex: Awesome. And then to get a little bit more granular, you could say with it. So what are some of those steps and some of those tactics that that you guys are using over there when you’re managing up and how do they play a role in the overall development of the team and then a view as an SDR as a whole?

Elizabeth: Right. So to set the context, a little bit AirCall, we just hit our series c funding. So we’re innovating, changing a lot, we just realigned our values. So our values set the context of their trust, excellence, customer obsession, and then thrive committed together. So with these values, we really set it up with my manager, the CEO, everyone in the company to express these values and really apply them in their day to day tasks. I think that helps me and my organization and my team to be able to establish that trust and you can have those conversations with your managers, I really think that has helped me and my role kind of speak from my ideas or my experiences.

And just to set the context a little bit more. I was part of the first hiring class to build the outbound team so we can scale for the future of AirCall. So with that, we’ve had to test a bunch of different things. We’re testing new markets, different verticals, so a bunch of different experimentation in a way, so managing up is very powerful and important of this because I’m doing all the tasks, I’m having the conversations, there’s insight in that which I can bring to my manager to help them make more informed decisions to either be like, yes, this is a wonderful idea or maybe we need to tweak the wording or messaging or let’s just scrap this, try something else.

Greyson: Yes, I completely agree. And I think like, you know, your experiences kind of going in as one of the kind of the first set of hiring classes at AirCall gives you a unique take on how this has evolved. I think, you know, transparency is a big part of this, right? Because not only is it the responsibility of the rep to manage up, to kind of get themselves accountable on their own terms, having the details and the information ready for their team and their managers, you know, and be prepared, that’s a big piece.

But then on the same token, I think you really brought up a good point kind of hidden in there that managers have to make it a positive experience for reps to be transparent, and to be visible to their managers. Because if not all there is fear. There’s just fear behind that. And then it gets to that relationship where the managers just tell them what to do. The managers control everything, and the rep just does their job. And that’s all they do. And they don’t want to kind of dig deeper and get more involved.

And so I wanted to transition over to the example that that AirCall is setting. You know, I think what you guys have going on is something that not every SDR program, or maybe even sales organization has in place where not only are the reps able to do their jobs effectively, which is the first step, but they’re also able to hop in there and interact with managers with C level with other team members and really get themselves involved as a group to innovate, like you said. Could you like walk through some examples of what air call is doing to help facilitate take both the managers and the reps when they’re trying to communicate with each other?

Elizabeth: Right. So since it’s our company values, I think it’s instilled in us a whole another level, I would say right when we begin, Brian Alcester, the director of the SDR team, he stated and said, you know, I want to go to bat for you guys. I’m here to be one of you all, and help, you know, build a great organization. And then we got a manager, Matt Osit, who was actually account executive before. So he really had deep product knowledge.

But he even came in and said, you know, if you guys have anything, just come to me talk to me, I’m always willing to hear, you know, even if it’s something that really can’t be done, he still understands and says, you know, I understand your points that you’re making, and I see this maybe, you know, maybe down the line, if we have more data or something, it’ll be a little bit more helpful to kind of make this improvement but just so you know, I hear you maybe we can’t do anything about this now, but just be patient, keep doing your job, and maybe something will come out of it. 

So really the foundation, I really do believe it’s the foundation and that layering and you know, just because it’s in our values, and then also with our managers and what not, it also… I portray onto my customers as well, if I can’t do anything for them, or maybe I don’t think we’re the best option, I make sure to instill that trust with them and say, “Hey, you know what, I don’t think this can be done. Let’s just part ways.”

Greyson: Yeah, I think you’re kind of drawing a good vision here of the need for organizations to support this kind of system we have going on because I’m sure you can imagine how difficult it would be for you to do what you’re doing or be able to effectively communicate with managers if it wasn’t set all the way from the top in your values. You know, how would managers know how to treat their SDRs and how would SDRs know how to reciprocate that? So I think that’s a really, really good point. 

Elizabeth: Yes, definitely. I mean, it’s definitely helped me as an individual. You know, I’m from… I come from Colorado, had this crazy idea to start my career in New York. So I did it, it was a lot, but really having that baseline, I really truly think I’ve grown so much as a professional just because I have confidence to speak up or say my thoughts, whatever the outcome.

Alex: Yes, it’s a huge advantage you get from working at a company that really allows you to do these things. I mean, even looking just at this podcast right now, do you think you would have even joined the podcast or reached out to Greyson about that if your company hadn’t said like, “Hey, you have this full range of Do whatever you want,” right.

Elizabeth: Right, especially with the topic of managing up at first when Greyson was going through all of them, I was like, “okay, that one intrigues me but like, could be a little risky,” you know.

Alex: Yes. But it’s a super interesting strategy though. And I do love that. It sounds like you guys have really taken that strategy not only within sales development, but it seems like correct me if I’m wrong, but the company as a whole is really taking the advice from the bottom up and not ignoring those sort of entry level or lower level employees. A lot of older organizations tend to have this sort of that ability to fall into that trap.

Elizabeth: Right. I mean, because I think we all know the SDR role is not something that’s easy. When you sign up to, you know, start your career as an SDR you have to be ready for it. You have to take the challenges. You have to be confident, even when you get told no. Out of 90% of conversations, so really hearing that feedback is helpful.

Alex: Yeah that’s awesome. To sort of bounce off of that and get into some more granular top tips, examples, types, things… For somebody that finds himself fortunate enough to be in an org that has this sort of managing up culture, do you have any top tips, final advice, sort of golden nuggets to share with anyone there to help take get the most out of those opportunities they’re given?

Elizabeth: Yes, definitely. So when first starting, I think it’s important to kind of identify your own personal values. Because every human has some hidden motives, whether it’s to learn the sales experience, or start in software or whatnot, there’s always something that’s hidden behind so it’s really good to establish your values. For example, one of my values personally is to be honest.

You know, sometimes sales people get the rep for being sleazy or you know, we have quotas, so it can be stressful sometimes trying to crunch to the end, so I really have that value to make sure, just to be honest with my prospect, if we can do if we can do it, if it’s not working. Sometimes I’m even like, Okay, listen, like I know this is a lot to ask. But if I get this meeting like I could potentially hit goal, I know that’s a lot to ask. But if you could fit this schedule in for this month, that’d be wonderful. So really first off is establishing your own values.

But I think it’s also good to understand that you’re in a team. With every team, every different person has a strength, I might be good at something, someone would be terrible at it, but be good at something else. So really leveraging your team. I have a close group of friends at AirCall, that I connect with every day we help hold each other accountable, lift each other up, give each other advice and tips to make ourselves better professionals. But you know, sometimes with managing up and seeing something that maybe could have some tips or insights or value added to the situation. Sometimes I’ll be like, okay, is this crazy. Is it just me or is this like, should we maybe think of what could be a better solution?

So that’s really helpful kind of having that group think, effort, especially in team because if I say, “Oh, you know what, this is wonderful, but maybe this needs to be looked at again,” it’s a lot more helpful to have three people be like, you know what, Liz, I agree with you. I think that should be looked at again. And so really just the group power group think one versus four people is a lot more powerful when you have four. 

An SDR teams usually have a bigger team. So it’s pretty easy on that aspect. But then also, when you’re managing up, I think it’s important, you know, we are selfish in nature. So you sometimes only think about yourself as a whole. I think it’s good to think about the business and how this idea can come to fruition and help the business as a whole. Sometimes, you know, we fight for things that like really only look at our side, but sometimes you need to go out and think about, “okay, how would it affect this team, how would it affect this team.”

And so sometimes pulling data from the customers that you are working with or even talking to sales ops or marketing can be very insightful to give you little pieces of nuggets that can either help you or even change your idea a little bit more or say, you know what, with all that data and insight, I think we have the best solution at place.

Greyson: Yes, I really love that. I think the example you gave of the group is really a personification of managing up. You’re going beyond your role and you’re learning how to lead within your team and you’re learning how to keep yourself and other people accountable, which that’s part of being a leader. You have to be able to like literally keep someone other than yourself accountable and on the same page.

So I think it speaks to this larger awareness that an SDR needs to have. Because even in AirCall’s example where you have all the support and infrastructure to help you communicate and to help you go up to management and keep them on the same page, you still have to have that motivation. And you still have to have kind of that drive to say, “okay, I’m going to step up, I’m going to keep these people in touch, I’m going to help spend this time to keep these people accountable and I’m going to spend time with these people to help myself stay accountable.”

I think that’s like a big step up for a lot of SDRs because it is a fast paced environment. And so sometimes people think about doing all that extra work they’re like, “Wow you know, I like barely have enough time to go through and just like get through my daily calls.” Do you have any tips before we finish off on how an SDR can fit this style of managing up within their daily workflow, you know, they’ve got their calls, they’ve got their meetings, they’re reviewing emails, they’re on social, when is a good time or what’s a good workflow for saying, “Okay, I’m going to spend time with this team or this manager, this people consistently?”

Elizabeth: Consistently. Hmm. I think it’s always important to be friendly with your coworkers. Especially when you all the same goal is to grow your business. But there’s always so much to learn from different people. They’re doing different things every day, you know, especially from work from home, it could be simple thing like Slack or having video chats, something really little like that.

I think AirCall is really good as well. People are willing to help are willing to give their time. But really, if you manage your time, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. I know. That’s a lot to say. But really, you know, if you connect with someone, it shouldn’t take more than half an hour. I mean, we’re supposed to have five minute conversations and book someone on a demo. So I think we got it.

[laugh]

Greyson: Yes, I think that is essentially managing up like before you can manage upwards and like have control over your role on what’s going on, you need to be able to manage your time. And so like if you can’t even kind of go beyond your daily responsibilities to grow or learn or communicate with your team, then that kind of goes to the core of what you need to do to grow as a leader, because you can’t effectively learn how to be a leader yourself until you’ve learned how to really dive into like you said, your values, and then finding that drive to be able to consistently do it. I really love that.

Awesome, so thank you Elizabeth, so much for joining us today to talk about this idea of managing up and kind of growing into one’s own as like a leader within the SDR team. Before we close out where can people find more about you and also AirCall?

Elizabeth: Yes, definitely. So I’m on LinkedIn, it’s Elizabeth Beggs, feel free to reach out. Connect always Happy to see some friendly faces always send a message out just to get that personal connection and understand who you are. But yes if you all are interested in AirCall feel free to reach out to me or you know you can go on the website aircall.io we really help customer facing team so SDR role, you know you’re kind of doing the same task over and over again we create efficiencies over those conversations over the phone so you can really focus on essential tasks instead of typing in numbers or logging whatsoever. 

So yes, always available to connect, like learning like meeting new people like having fun and doing different things like you all you just popped in connected with me, messaged me on LinkedIn, it was great.

[laugh]

Greyson: Awesome. Yeah, why I really think you know, for anyone listening here, you know, I think starting a group within your organization could be a very powerful way to level yourself up because one point that Elizabeth made earlier is that you know, you can do it on your own or with just the help of a manager, but it’s hard because you’re missing experiences, you’re missing perspective, and you’re also missing your own mistakes because it’s hard to catch your own mistakes when you’re in the groove. 

So, thank you so much Elizabeth, for joining us. This has been Greyson and Alex for The SDRealness Podcast. Until next time, SDRs keep it real.

Elizabeth: Yes, thank you so much for having me SDRevoluion. Pleasure.

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