EPISODE 6: MAKING THE TRANSITION FROM SDR TO MANAGER
Episode 6 Transcript
Alex: Hello, and welcome to the SDRealness Podcast, brought to you by Sales Development Revolution. Where we talk with 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 hey
Alex: In this series, we’re focused on becoming a leader in the SDR world. Today we’re going to take you through one person’s transition from SDR to SDR manager and what lessons he learned going through that process. That person is today’s guest, Matt Reuter – Sales Development Manager at RealPage. Thanks so much for hopping on with us, Matt.
Matt: Thanks, guys, thanks for having me. You know this project is near and dear to my heart. As an SDR, I wish I would’ve had something like this to be able to learn from. So I’m really excited to be here.
Alex: Glad to have you, Matt! I want to frame the conversation a bit to kick things off. I think a lot of people are just behind you, where you are in your role.
They might be in a leadership position as a team lead SDR, or maybe they’ve kind of risen as a potential for a promotion within the organization. I wanted to get your take on what that experience was like, going from SDR to actually managing SDRs. What were the steps involved? Did you get any support? Just kind of walk us through your experience.
Matt: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s really important for people who don’t know my story. I didn’t set out to be an SDR or an SDR manager or in sales to begin with. It all started in college when I was trying to become a dentist. I actually went through all the shadowing and the schooling and the tests and everything that’s involved with that.
I didn’t get in my first round, and I thought, “Hey, sales is something that I’m passionate about, something that I enjoy doing. It’s not going to take four years and thousands of dollars in debt in order to accomplish that goal.” So that led me into my SDR career. I started as an SDR at a telecom company. I didn’t know anything about networking or security or cold-calling or prospecting or anything. I was just kind of thrown into it, and I fell in love with it. I fell in love with the competitiveness of chasing the deal, trying to convince somebody to take a call with you, to explain the value and overcome objections.
I started as an inbound SDR, so I was taking inbound marketing leads, turning them into appointments, and throwing them to the sales team. Then we decided that we were going to try an outbound program – true prospecting. This was really before the days of DiscoverOrg being would be what it is today.
You had Linkedin, and you had a chrome extension that gave you an email address that could potentially be right. You had to go work your way through the organization to figure that out. So through that, we started an ABM process.
We started an account-based marketing model where we are given lists of accounts, and we had to go out and find the right people to talk to at those accounts. I looked at that as a puzzle.
I looked at it as a treasure hunt to find the right person and to figure out how do I get my way into the organization, and I fell in love with that too. We decided that was a much more economical way to use the SDR program.
At that point, I was promoted to a team lead. I had to bring up the program. I had to develop a prospecting strategy, work with my director at the time to put together a plan for how we were going to penetrate these accounts. After that, I had been doing a lot of the manager role, as a team leader – I took a lot of initiative. I started leading team training.
I started developing skills using SalesLoft, where I became a SalesLoft expert. By the time that that position as manager became available, I was the next best choice. It was like, ‘why would we go outside, why not just give Matt a shot?’. Now being at RealPage, this is my 13th lead in the SDR role. I really love the top of the funnel process and that whole part of the sale cycle. Anyway, that’s kind of my story. That’s how I got to where I am today.
Greyson: Awesome. I really love that. It really points out the initiative that I think you have to take as an SDR to level up. Most people they think about working – you said you were working with your director, and a lot of people have trouble just working with their direct managers, right? That was kind of like a big moment for you, I imagine. Kind of taking that step up and being willing to be uncomfortable there.
Alex: I think you touched on some really interesting things about really taking control of some of those management aspects before you were really a manager, right? You were just a team lead. That’s a very common role amongst sales development teams.
Every organization sort of has a different role and responsibilities for those team leads. So, a lot of times, you can be a team leader, and your manager is still micro-managing you, things like that.
I think that’s a really important thing to note. What you were able to do is really take advantage and see where there were maybe some gaps as this outbound process was growing and being developed, and jump in to fill in those gaps without needing a promotion, or needing the validation of, ‘Hey can you call me a manager?’
Sort of doing the role before you get the title or be acclaimed for it. That was an awesome thing you were doing. I want to sort of spin this around and dive into some of the bigger challenges that you had to face. Maybe mistakes you made going through that. I’m sure it wasn’t all just roses and rainbows for you. I’m sure there were some tough times where you were moving up or taking on responsibilities that you probably maybe weren’t getting credit for the way you thought- things like that. What kinds of challenges did you face going through that process?
Matt: The biggest challenge that I faced, hands-down, was being one of the team members and then becoming the leader over those guys. You have to get their buy-in. You have to really work to establish that relationship to where they no longer see you as one of the guys, but they see you as this authority figure now; that has the potential to help their career or hurt their career.
One of the main ways I overcame that challenge. I’m pretty sure most people in the SDR community are familiar with Morgan Ingram. So Morgan and I had connected really when he first started his transition from SDR to SDR manager. He started making lots of content, and I started following his content and watching it.
Soon as I got that manager role, I said I’ve got to reach out to Morgan. I’ve got to talk to him and figure out what do I do. What is the right next steps? So Morgan gave me really good advice after sitting down with each SDR, saying, “Hey what are your concerns, what are your career aspirations? How can I help you? How can I be a servant to you? How can I help your career and train you the right way, what do you want to do?”
And then also, ‘What ideas can you bring to the table? What are some ideas that you have that could change this?’. What I found is that that gave people a voice. It gave them the ability to see that I’m not just going to come in here and dictate what we’re going to do. Still, I’m going to take everybody’s collective ideas together, and everyone’s creativity so that everyone has a voice within a team.
That really helped the credibility of me as a leader, but it also showed everybody else that, “Hey, we can trust him, we can work with him in this.” That would probably be the main challenge that I had. The next was just learning how to hire and train people. As a team lead, you’re not the one that’s actually bringing people on.
You’re not the one saying, “Yes, this is the SDR we want to bring into the organization.” I really had to start leading on my mentors and my peers to understand how do I interview? How do I ask the right questions? I know the type of personality I’m looking for, but how do I get that personality to shine through so that I can hire them.
There’s thousands and thousands of hours of content out there that can help you with this. Maybe this being one of them. Leverage your relationships on LinkedIn, leverage partnerships, or people around you; your direct managers. You can always learn something from people. So I would say those are probably the biggest two.
Greyson: Awesome. I love that. I wanted to touch specifically on management skills real quick before we move on to the next question. You mentioned hiring; you mentioned training. Are there any other missing pieces that you see a lot of SDRs running into as they start leveling up in their career, kind of moving more into this leadership position? Are there any missing skills or things that people need to be aware of as they start going up?
Matt: Yeah, absolutely. The business world and moving up in an organization is all about relationships. It’s about taking that initiative.
Something I always encourage all my SDR’s to do is: You’re in a unique position where you’re new to a company, you’re new to a sales program, you’re expected not to know what to do, you’re expected not to know what you’re doing.
It’s the perfect time in your life to be able to build those relationships in your life with VP’s, with CO Executives, with whoever’s around you, with your account managers, whatever. Go out into the company, build those relationships with people because you never know when you’re going to need them.
The business world is such a small world when you think about it. The relationships you make as an SDR can really help push you on. People love to teach other people a skill, or something to do. It really opens the door for a really strong relationship with you or somebody in a senior position. You’re becoming their protege.
You’re absorbing everything that they tell you and then you’re applying it.. I think that’s the most important thing. To then take that info and apply it to what you’re doing.
Alex: Absolutely, and I think that’s one of the things that can be intimidating at first. You’re a fresh SDR. You don’t know anything. Maybe you’re two feet away from the VP of the sales office, but you’re too scared to even look at that door because what if he sees me, what if he notices me and then I messed up, I did something wrong.
That’s a pretty normal thing to go into an unknown environment with that kind of mindset. Yeah, I think you pointing that out is huge. You just really need to take that step, reach out to that person.
It’s funny because as an SDR, you’re used to getting rejected all the time. But then, it’s like a relationship that you really ‘care’ about, and it’s a relationship that really matters for your job, it’s a whole different ball game.
For some reason, that scale won’t translate unless you really sit down and focus on, “Hey, I’ve learned how to reach out to VP’s and CO levels as an SDR, I just need to do the same thing at my job, this should be easier.” Once you say that to yourself, that process does become easier.
Matt: It’s just like prospecting, right? Find something interesting with that person that you have in common with them. Bring it up in conversation and lead it into the conversation that you want to have. Take a personalized approach.
Greyson: I actually wanted to get to that, Matt. Some may be final tips for someone who is either an SDR team leader, or maybe it’s and SDR that’s aspiring to really get into management and really just start managing and growing your own team.
What advice/tips/nuggets would you give somebody to really help level their game and also make sure that they don’t get into pitfalls or obstacles that they can avoid.
Matt: I love this question because this is something that I learned early in my career, thankfully. It was, “Find some area that you can be an expert in and be that go-to person for that.” For me, it was SalesLoft. I’ve just always been at a company that uses Sales Loft. I really dug into it.
I learned how to build automation, and I learned what a cadence was. I did lots of research on, “How do I have effective messaging? How do you do leap flow within sales office? How do you do these different things?” You become that go-to where everyone in the organization starts coming to you.
That kind of led to my last role. I was the admin for SalesLoft for the Americas. So, for the entire company, I was the go-to SalesLoft guy, but I was also a manager. That’s really strong wherever you are; you’re that expendable. They see you as that go-to person, that, ‘Hey, he can answer this question.’
Find something, whether that’s a tool, whether that’s a process, whether that’s just you being a leader out there on the floor or motivating the people around you. Do something that’s going to make you stand out and be different.
Alex: Yeah, I love that. That’s the whole point of being an SDR, right? You’ve got to stand out from the crowd with your outreach, stand out from the crowd with your fellow SDR’s; if you’re really trying to move up.
I think that’s you trying to grow your career. Matt, thank you so much for joining us to talking about your career, your evolution from an SDR to a manager. What that process was like and all the gold nuggets you gave us on that. For anyone who wants to learn more about you and the work you’ve done at the Realpage, where can they find you?
Matt: Check me out on LinkedIn. I’m one of the very rare people now in 2020 that only has one social media account, and that’s LinkedIn. I don’t like to cloud my time and my efforts on other platforms.
So, just on LinkedIn, you can find me on there. There’s a lot of videos and stuff that I’ve done on there as well.
Alex: Sounds good, easy enough to find you, only one place.
Alex: Perfect. This has been Alex and Greyson for the SDRealness Podcast with Matt Reuter Until next time SDRs, keep it real.