As an SDR, Who Are You Competing Against?

Two men arm wrestling over crumpled up cash in black and white

As we all know, in sales, competition is the name of the game. Regardless of their motivation, it doesn’t take an expert to notice that the most competitive reps are the ones who hit their goals most often. There’s a clear correlation there and it doesn’t need much extrapolation.

Instead, let’s focus on the competitions themselves. For SDRs, there’s more than one contest going on at any given time, and recognizing them will help you understand your own motivations and allow you to focus on the competitions that are most important for your individual improvement. If you’re an SDR reading this, take a moment to think about what you’re trying to achieve today, this week, this month, this quarter, etc. and who you need to beat in order to reach those goals (hint: it might even be yourself).

Compete against your colleagues

This is by far the most tangible of the contests because you spend every day working with your competition (even if you’re WFH you should still be in contact with them regularly). You’re also all working within the same parameters under the same conditions, meaning comparisons will come early and often. 

On the positive side of things, by being able to easily compare yourself to your competition it’s easy to see and make marked improvements, as well as notice if you’re falling behind. This kind of insight is vital as you work to improve your craft and pass more leads.

But it’s not without its drawbacks. You’re competing with your peers, and that can lead to some rocky relationships if you don’t treat everyone on your team with the right attitude. If you stop advising your coworkers because you want to beat them this quarter, they’ll notice. Situations like this can quickly escalate into real chemistry issues if left unchecked.

Think of it like the quarterback competitions a handful of NFL teams have at the beginning of every season. While both quarterbacks want nothing more than to be the starter, at the end of the day they need to recognize that whoever loses will spend the year alongside them on the field and in meetings. Keeping the long-term relationship in mind is imperative because the competition is ultimately only a small part of what will make the team successful over the course of the season. You want to be more like Jordan Love and Aaron Rodgers than Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre.

Don’t ruin the year just to win the quarter. 

Compete against your org’s competition

While the visibility into your competition lies somewhere between low and nonexistent, that doesn’t stop them from being a major competitor to both you and your company. To continue the football analogy (can you tell that I’m excited it’s back?) this would be the equivalent of playing games against the other teams in your division. This type of constant and direct competition (in the NFL 38% of your games are against divisional opponents) can lead to some intense rivalries.

As an SDR, you’re part of the team competing against your rivals, which is decidedly different from the individual in-office contests we already touched on. You need to be able to do your part, but you shouldn’t ever need to put the team on your back and carry them to victory. Your role is in information gathering. Use your discovery calls and early-stage qualifications to find out if an account uses a competitor or is considering them as an alternative to you. Some of the most useful competitive intelligence comes from these conversations. Do your job by recording that info in your CRM and relaying it to the rep you pass the lead to.

Compete against every SDR

Sounds like a lot right? But this is the reality you work in, whether or not you choose to admit it. Your goal is to get in contact with the key decision-makers at your target accounts, right? Do the math. There are significantly fewer accounts and decision-makers than there are SDRs. The odds are never in your favor. At least information on other sellers is more accessible than it was in the past.

If they’ll let you, find a director at your company and take a look at their inbox one morning. I guarantee that a majority of their new emails are cold outreach (unless they have a strict spam filter). And that’s just on a random morning. Add that to the emails and phone calls that likely come in throughout the day or over the weekend and you’ll quickly realize why standing out is so important. 

You have to be bold and different while remaining respectful and professional. It’s a tough balance to strike, but don’t be afraid to take risks. Treat every mistake as a learning experience, and eventually you’ll have the knowledge and experience to garner a response from your ideal prospect. 

“Just know that somebody will accomplish whatever you are trying to accomplish. The question is: Will it be you or will it be somebody else? Make it you.” 

Lee Rozins

Knowing how to stand out from this crowd is a tall task, but those that accomplish it become SDR Superstars. 

Compete against yourself

At the end of the day, all you can really control is yourself. You’re going to have some bad days where nobody picks up the phone on the other end. You’re going to have great months followed by disastrous ones. Being an SDR is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. The key to competing against yourself is to strive for improvement.

For example, do you still hesitate to pick up the phone sometimes? Set a dial goal and hold yourself to it, first for a day, then a week, then a month. By setting small achievable goals with consistency, you’ll be halfway up the mountain (long-term success) before even realizing you had really started to climb. 

And don’t worry if you have a bad day or can’t achieve your goal that day/week/month. Nobody achieves their goals 100% of the time, not even The Rock. What really matters is what you do after you fail. Take the time to figure out what went wrong and how you plan to adjust. As long as you can execute on those adjustments (which also won’t happen 100% of the time, be realistic) you’ll be crushing your goals before you even realize what you’re doing right.

As an SDR, you have a lot of competitions to keep track of and they can be difficult to prioritize. Each of them is important in their own right. Competing against your colleagues will motivate everyone to get better. Competing against your org’s competitors will help your entire company grow. Competing against every SDR out there will teach you how to stand out in the role. But ultimately, as long as you focus on self-improvement – competing against yourself – you’ll be putting in the work required for all the contests. As long as you keep improving your craft and mastering different responsibilities you’ll become an SDR star before you know it. 

Want to learn from sales development experts around the globe? Join the discussion on the SDRevolution Community Slack group!