The Many Faces of Sales Personalization

Four Yellow Spherical Balls Each with a Different Facial Expression: Sad, Happy, Mad, and Worried

Over the last handful of years sales development has transformed from a quantity-based approach to a quality-based one. Today, SDRs are better off sending fewer, more targeted messages to a prospect or account.

But what exactly does that mean? Personalization can take many shapes, and every SDR and prospect is different; embrace that. It’s all about injecting a human touch into a cold call or email, and everyone is going to approach it slightly differently. That’s what makes it personal.

We spoke with a handful of top SDRs and BDRs to see what personalization means to them, and – surprise! – it means something different to each of them.

Research is Vital

For Sales Development Manager Greg Cammarata, his ability to research a prospect is what allows him to personalize his outreach effectively. “The research you do will give you significant insight into the company you are reaching out to.” For most SDRs, there’s only one place you have to go to gather enough insight to personalize an email: LinkedIn.

It’s impossible to understate just how important LinkedIn (and specifically the information it provides) has become to the sales development community. LinkedIn has essentially established themselves as a place for every business professional to house their online resume and credentials. This is great for prospects because it allows them to further their careers more easily, and even better for SDRs because it gives them the knowledge they need to personalize their outreach.

But what do you do when your prospect doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile? According to AJ Alonzo, former dD SDR and current Director of Marketing, it’s all about getting creative. “I remember struggling to find anything interesting about a particular prospect until I found their Twitter, where I discovered our shared interest in Pokemon Go.” From there, making a connection was easy, all AJ had to do was send a screenshot of the Lapras he hatched and the conversation was on its way.

Between LinkedIn and the rest of the internet, it’s nearly impossible for a prospect to hide everything about themselves from an SDR nowadays, as long as you know where and how to search. While LinkedIn rightfully takes up a majority of an SDRs research, top-performing SDRs stand out because they actively look for tidbits and info outside of their prospects’ LinkedIn profiles. The point is, if you can find your prospect on TikTok, use that!

Research is Impossible

As much as I wish that what I wrote above was a universal truth for SDRs, it’s just not the case. Certain individuals, industries, roles, and even accounts have significantly less information out there for you to find. So what do you do when that happens?

To start, go with what you do know. For Sr SDR Simon Polakoff that means he always has his prospects title as something to fall back on, because it’s something that any half-decent prospect has. Over time Simon has developed an understanding of his target ICP and catered his messaging to match. Every email he sends defines “a specific outreach point that is particular to their job description.” He also recommends tossing in a subtle compliment, like calling them a “senior HR leader” to make sure the prospect feels singled out in a positive way, or as he puts it, “they like the compliment.”

There is another place well run sales teams can find useful info on a prospect, and it’s right in front of you every day. That’s right, it’s your CRM. Sr SDR Mike Mahoney, one of demandDrive’s most diligent note-takers, can attest. Whenever Mike has a quality conversation with a prospect, he makes sure to write down “what their interest is, what their tone was, and how in depth they got during your conversation.” in addition to their potential sales qualifications. This not only allows Mike to more easily recall his conversations, but it also helps his entire team. Now, whoever follows up with Mike’s past prospects will have an easier time converting them because they can jump into a conversation halfway through with full confidence that they know what happened during the first half. Or as Mike puts it, “Having the right information and being able to call up past conversations can be the difference between a next step and a lead going cold on you.” Don’t give those leads an opportunity to go cold; take notes.

What’s that, you say? You don’t have a clean CRM and can’t find your prospect anywhere online? Sounds pretty rough. You’re really going to have to put the personal in personalization. If you can’t get your prospect to open up to you, you’re going to have to open up to them instead. Sales Development Manager Phil Gerard does this by injecting humor into his correspondence. “I’ve always found that inside jokes leave a lasting impression and are usually reserved for the people we are closest with.” Being lighthearted about your outreach puts the prospect at ease, as long as you keep it appropriate and professional.

Research is Unnecessary

This tactic will also work well in the long run if you play your cards right. Like Phil mentioned, jokes can leave a lasting impression. He considers himself a funny guy, so when he continues to make appropriate jokes throughout the process he continues to impress his personality on his prospects. His goal is simple. “you have to keep in mind that an email or call is going to be the prospects last impression of you while you nurture the account, and you want them to remember you.” Once you have a feel for the prospect’s personality, you can let yours shine.

Times are strange and serious right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a joke, you just have to be more careful about when and how you make it. For example, after getting a good feeling from one particular prospect who was interested but timing was off, Phil took a calculated shot.

“I let her know “…I have locked myself in my apartment with about 50 cans of beans and I am considering getting a turtle so I have somebody to talk to during these next few weeks.” My instincts were right and she let me know:

“Hahahaha you have a great sense of humor! Thanks for having a great sense of humor during these times!””

And guess what? That prospect is now another happy customer and more importantly, as Phil insisted, a friend.


For anyone attempting to implement more personalization into their outreach these are the different steps you should be taking to relate to your prospects on an individual level. Following them should get you in the door with personalization (as well as with a few prospects). If you really want to excel at personalization, be like Greg & AJ and do your research. Be like Simon and know your ICP. Be like Mike and take great notes. Be like Phil and use your sense of humor. But most importantly, be yourself. It’s called personalization for a reason.