EPISODE 9: TOP ADVICE FOR SDRs
Episode 9 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 as always is my co-host, Greyson Fullbright.
Greyson: Hello everyone!
Alex: So, we’re going to change it up a bit in this episode as far as the format goes. Instead of diving deep into one particular topic or something like that, our guest today who I’ll introduce in a second, was able to reach out to a bunch of SDRs and sales development professionals and really get their idea of what they wished they had known when they first started as an SDR.
So, before we dive into that, like I said, our guest today, I’d like to introduce him, is Calvin. He is an Account Executive at Concert, where they are trying to rid the world of bad commissions.
Calvin, thanks so much for hopping on with us today.
Calvin: Thanks so much for having me today guys.
Greyson: Awesome, Calvin. I really like this question that you posed to everyone. What did you wish that you could’ve known that would’ve improved either your progress or your career?
I chose one, and I’ll kick things off here.
This one is from Shaun Kalachuchi, he’s a BDR at Workato and he made a great quote about awareness and I’ll read it here, “Self-awareness, this takes time to develop, both personally and professionally, but the sooner that you begin working on it, the better.”
The reason why I chose this one is me, being an entrepreneur, and not having that traditional path through the SDR & AE role, I’ve had to pay particular attention to myself, my learning, my skills, my progress, because otherwise there’s not as many people, not as many accountability systems to prevent me from falling.
I think especially for SDR’s, if you want to be crushing quota and on the line up for a promotion or whatever it is that you want to do, you need to have that self-awareness because it is foundational to everything else and it all falls into place.
What do you guys think?
Calvin: I would completely agree too. It’s just a great quote and I think overall like EQ and just self-awareness is just key to whatever you’re doing.
But when you especially relate it back to why I chose start-ups over even massive companies. I knew about myself that I wanted to be in an environment where I had the ability to learn about different parts of the company as well as make a bigger impact, instead of feeling like I was a number and doing the same thing over and over again.
I learned this through, I had so many interviews with massive great companies that have an amazing reputation, but I just learned this through the interview process as well as doing a lot of self-reflection.
I’m really big on meditating and I’m still not on a daily practice but I’m working to getting towards that routine. But I think as much as you can learn about yourself whether that be through conversations with other people, meditating, journaling. Figure out what works best for you.
If you’re an introvert, self-reflect, but if you’re an extrovert, which I am, I just realized that the more conversation that I have with other people about myself and trying to figure that out, it works for me. In conversation, I think of ideas and what makes the most sense for myself instead of just only doing self-reflection, which I think a lot of people think is the only path to learning about yourself.
Alex: I think that is a huge point that you just made. Not everyone is made to be able to sit down quietly and maybe meditate or close their eyes and really try and figure out what makes them tick.
For a lot of people, they need to have that conversation, someone to bounce ideas off. So, I think that’s a really important aspect of developing our self-awareness is being able to understand not only what you think of yourself, but how you might be perceived by other people and whether or not you what that to be the perception that you give.
That just ties right into the SDR role, where if you know who you are, you know how to represent yourself, reaching out to prospects on a daily basis, which is hugely important for the role.
Greyson: Yeah and I think Calvin you made a good point earlier too about awareness and just career in general. I actually didn’t think of that part but you’re totally right. I see so many sellers out there and a lot of managers and leaders that talk about if you want something to happen or if you want change to happen and you’re not getting into an org, you shouldn’t be there. Be aware about why you’re going into an org. I think that that is a really good takeaway especially for SDR’s who might be unfamiliar with how to actually navigate the business world to find the best employers and what that would look like. So, good shout out there.
Calvin, I wanted to kick it on over to you. Do you want to read the one that you ended up choosing?
Calvin: Yeah, I think that I just want to add an additional point to what you said too as well. Where I’ve been coaching a few people in going through the interview process and something I’ve consistently brought up is you need to know what is the most important for you and your career.
Is it that you want the opportunity to learn from a great leader or do you want the opportunity to build something or do you want that ability to have everything just be very, very structured? And figuring out what is the most important thing for you. Is it a product you really want to be able to sell and you believe in? There’s always a lot of things you’ve got to take into account.
My quote that I picked that I really liked, was from Daniel Kline over at Namogoo. He’s the Head of Business Development over there and his quote was, “For me what I wished I knew going in was just how important it is to be an active participant in your own education. When I look at potential BDRs for my team, that seeker mentality is a key thing that I look for”.
So, I think, one, just the ending part where he’s looking for the seeker mentality and the natural curiosity. When you’re interviewing, you have to be able to have questions. You have to have thoughtful questions, not just, “Oh, what’s the pay? What are the benefits? What’s my PTO?”, everybody has those questions, especially when you’re interviewing with the Head of Business Development or that person that will be your direct manager.
Ask about competitive things, ask about their market, mention specific competitors, show that you did your research. That’s where it’s showing that you are naturally curious and you’re actually very interested in what the company does and who their competitors are, how do they fit into the market…
And, you know, Jake Dunlap did this really well, where he came in and said that — he basically came in with a pitch, “Here are the typical objections I’m going to get and here’s how I think that I’m going to be able to handle that,” and what just blew my mind is nobody does that. Taking the small amount of time like I do to just customize the Zoom background.
And for me, I was put into a situation where I didn’t have structured learning, so I really needed the natural curiosity to consistently be looking to learn from more people and that’s where I built my SDR 101 doc that’s on my LinkedIn right now. That I just started throwing resources to, okay, here’s all the LinkedIn leaders I’m following and I’m consuming their content. There’s free courses you can take online and there’s so much you can learn that doesn’t have to be from your internal company.
Go speak to your leaders, go speak to your top performers and your company, and ask them what they are doing to be successful. That’s the key I think and always being open to learning and not that — there’s always something that you can learn more and always improve.
Alex: Yeah, and on a more tangible or practical level for an SDR, that’s also true about the products you sell. I know there’s far too many organizations out there who say, “Alright you’re an SDR. You need to know this much about the product, this is what we’ll include in the training but beyond that, the field engineer, the AE’s, they’ll be able to take it from there. You’re never going to need to be able to run a demo, so why would we take the time to train you on that?”
A lot of the times you have to put that on yourself as the SDR to say, “Well, okay sure, you’re not going to teach me this but can I sit in on the demo? Can I sit down, have some one-on-ones with the AE’s and learn more about the product? Can I sit down with the developer and really dive into the details,” if I feel like that will help me on my prospecting calls on my outgoing outreach.
Being able to see what is given to you and then take that step beyond that is what I think really separates a good SDR who learns the bare minimum from a great SDR who really is curious and wants to improve in the role.
Greyson: Yeah and I think you really boiled it down well Alex to where, in my mind, learning and curiosity are at the core of the role. Because you can learn the processes, you learn how to use the tools. but sales is very open-ended. Situations are different, people are different, companies are different and so if you don’t have that curiosity, it’s so easy to miss things.
If you don’t have that seeker mindset it’s super easy to gloss over things or just become and order taker and I think the willingness to learn and that act of curiosity really does make the difference between someone who just gets trained and plopped into a seat versus someone who’s crushing quota and about to become a manager or an AE.
So, I really do like that advice.
Alex: For sure. And then to dive into mine this time. This is a quote from Sarah Drake, an SDR at Slack, so I’ll just read it in full:
“I wish I knew that not everything is about me and it’s not about you either.
What I mean by that is that for every hang-up, for every unsubscribe, for every meeting no-show there’s a reason that has to do with your prospects not necessarily about you. The earlier you can learn to not take things personally as an SDR the happier and more successful you’ll be”.
That one really resonated with me because I really looked back at my time as an SDR and this is one of the first things I didn’t know, I guest you could say. It is something that I took the longest to learn. I feel like I have a lot of that natural curiosity.
I like to consider that I am relatively self-aware, but when I would send out emails, when I would make phone calls, I would put the personalization in, and when I did that, I would also put myself in there personally. And that is a fine line that really takes a long time, it took a long time for me at least to develop.
Between being able to do the research, but in the time to really care about this prospect that I’m trying to reach out to in terms trying to open a conversation with them and still being able to understand that, at the end of the day, if they don’t want to talk to me, even if they’re rude to me, it’s probably not because of who I am. It’s just because of what I’m selling or because of a circumstance that’s outside of my control.
Calvin: Yeah, I think that’s probably the hardest thing to learn. And it doesn’t happen magically overnight. Every time you’re picking up the phone, you want success. Only 100% success is considered success to us.
I think that that is just so key. Where it is about actually learning to enjoy the process and the journey of where you’re going instead of strictly just being focused on getting the yes.
As you said too, a lot of these rejections are not because of you. They’re the company or the person having a bad day and sometimes you just need reminders of that.
I think once you get to really that point, it just becomes so much easier to sell because you’re not taking rejection personally. But it’s not easy to get to that point. I think everybody, at the end of the day, the best sellers really do care about their prospects and a lot of the top-performers are in it because they really feel like, “I have the ability to impact somebody else’s life”.
Again, it still comes from, “Hey, I have some opportunities to make a lot of money” but again its they enjoy the learning about these other companies and here’s where we’re going to be able to fit in.
And that again moves into the natural curiosity about learning about these other companies, learning about your business, and where do they mesh, instead of just “I’m in this role where I’m going to automate everything too,” where it is easy to separate yourself then but then it also, you’re just a robot. You’re not going to stand out in the noise that exists right now.
You look at a leader’s calendar right now or their email inbox, it’s absurd. You have to do something that stands out and that’s where when you invest that time of a video or a personal message, again, you took the time because you really feel like you can impact this person, but you can’t be like, “Okay, it’s all on me and my fault if this person doesn’t answer or they are not interested”.
They not, not interested in you and who you are as a person, they just don’t want your product, they’re using a competitor, it’s a bad day. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I think it is one of the most key things in sales to master.
Greyson: I think it’s a mindset issue too. In my mind, resilience takes repetition, of course, because you have to be consciously thinking about that future vision that you want to feel.
If you are scared or if you have this mindset that you are the linchpin between your company’s success and the prospect rejecting you, you are just going to fall apart from the start. You can’t be resilient about something if everything is pointed at you, even the things that you can’t control.
One other thing that you pointed out Calvin that I loved is about trusting the process. Because listen, if you have a company that gives you as an SDR the control to modify messaging and play with cadences, so be it. Maybe there is a little bit of fault there.
But most of the time you’ve got the support of marketing teams, of more experienced reps on your teams, of managers and leadership that help not only build this messaging and this journey for your buyers, but should also be helping you coach through how to go through and just repeat it effectively and efficiently.
That I think is the best part of this quote is that if you trust the process, resilience comes because you’re not really focused on the outcome of each one. You’re just focused on how each one goes through the process. If you just focus on those steps.
It’s not easy to take a step back and say, “Okay, that went wrong. I didn’t do wrong. It’s not all me, it was a mistake here and I can fix it.” Rather than, “I’m not cut for sales.”
I love that quote, right? “I’m not cut out for sales, this isn’t it for me”. I’m like, “No! Either you didn’t trust the process or you didn’t follow the process,” is what I say.
Calvin: I’d love to give a quote from Man’s Search for Meaning. I don’t know — have you guys read that book? So, I highly recommend it. It’s kind of a long quote but I think it’s very impactful.
I personally just had this book recommended to me and I think it just covers on everything we just touched on and its:
“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it.
For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.
Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say! —success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it”
Alex: That’s awesome. It really does a good job of really weighing out the idea Greyson and Calvin you both talked about where you really have to trust the process. You have to embrace the journey and that’s really the focus of the mindset.
I’ve never really thought about ignoring success. That’s a really interesting way to put it and I’m going to take some time after this to think about it, but yeah, really just making sure that your focus is on what you’re doing now as far as the process, making sure that something is repeatable, making sure you’re learning from your experience.
Whether you fail or succeed isn’t as important as learning from it. So, I think that that’s something that that quote really hits on the head there. And to be able to embrace that is difficult, but it’s ultimately very important to do if you’re going to be successful.
Calvin: I think that that’s pretty much what the quote is. The long-term goal is its so easy to focus on that, but you just need to focus on the little wins and right now and put yourself in the right situations.
I think that that’s where you still need to focus on what is your goal to put yourself in the right situations. If you don’t have a goal, it’s hard to put yourself in that right situation. But again, it is just really focusing on the here and now and being in the moment.
Alex: 100%. Calvin, thank you so much for joining us today to talk about these and share some wisdom for all those fresh faced SDRs out there who are maybe looking for some answers when they get thrown to the wolves there as SDRs.
For anyone out there who wants to learn more about you or the work that you do at Concert, where can they find you?
Calvin: Yeah, so the best way to find me is on LinkedIn, Calvin Patterson IV. Got to throw in that 4 at the end and then soon enough you’ll be seeing me with my own podcast as well.
Alex: There we go, keep an eye out for that. This has been Alex Ellison and Greyson Fullbright for The SDRealness Podcast. Until next time SDRs keep it real.