When most people think of sales, they think about representatives who are pitching and talking to potential customers about a product or service and an in-depth sales pitch that leads to a closed deal. The truth is that a lot goes on before that conversation even happens. What had to happen for that potential customer to even agree to a meeting? How many emails were sent? How many phone calls were made? Welcome to the life of a sales development representative (SDR).
A sales development representative is an inside sales representative whose job is to solely focus on prospecting and engaging with leads. With techniques like cold calls and emails, they move prospects through the sales pipeline, qualify them, and set up appointments for Account Executives (AEs) who deliver a more detailed sales pitch. In other words, they are developing sales leads to become long-term, successful customers later on.
SDRs make the sales world go round. Here are 9 must-have and top-performer traits that are essential to becoming a great SDR.
To put it simply, this job isn’t easy. One of the most important qualities of any good SDR is their grit. It can take dozens of cold calls just to find one lead that is interested in what you have to say, and sometimes, that can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Getting told “no” all day in search of the one person who will tell you “yes” requires a high amount of resilience. But SDRs get the job done. If you’re able to pick yourself back up when things don’t go your way and keep running full force toward your goals, you’d be great in an SDR position.
Grit and resilience are must-haves for SDRs—it can take over 18 calls just to set up a sales appointment in some industries. Maintaining focus on the end goal and coming at these challenges head-on is what will make you successful in this industry, and your company will be impressed in the long run once you start driving in quality leads.
In sales, things move fast—are you ready to roll with the punches? Adaptability is one of the most important qualities in a good SDR since their job is constantly changing. A great SDR needs to be able to adapt to different selling situations. At any given time, the market they’re pitching to could change. They must be able to adapt their selling style depending on the geographic area of the country they’re calling. Also, knowing different tactics to use during different times of the year (for example, in Q4, a great SDR would talk to a prospect about how their product or service will set them up for success in the new year).
In addition to talking to prospects in different industries and locations, SDRs also have a constantly changing team structure. For example, when they start the job, the team may be using a round robin structure. This means that the SDR can set appointments for any AE. A more developed sales enablement team uses an alignment structure where every SDR is aligned with their own AE. The best SDRs are able to adapt to these changes quickly and easily.
To land a sales job, you have to be a bit of an extrovert and even a little kooky! If you put a bunch of SDRs in a room, the atmosphere is fun, loud, and most importantly, it’s energizing. The work isn’t always easy in an SDR role, but the people attracted to this job have high energy and are outgoing enough to get the job done. After all, you’re never going to sell anything if you’re boring to listen to. We welcome the outgoing, the unique, and the outrageous, and a good SDR is going to feed off of other people’s energy to make a strong bond with their team.
No self-respecting SDR wants to remain in the middle of the pack—they have an innate desire to succeed and ultimately come out on top. There is an unmistakable competitive energy in any sales team, and having an ambitious spirit is going to be the difference between an average SDR and a great one. Whether it’s a contest of who can set the most appointments, make the most calls, or get the most email responses, a competitive culture in the sales world drives our teams to go above and beyond.
How far could your own SDR team take you? Let’s find out →
The following traits aren’t necessarily “must-haves,” but they are what will take an SDR from good to great and help them become a top performer on their team.
Self-awareness is important in any profession but is a desirable quality that will set you apart from other SDRs. Sales pitches can become impersonal—you give the same pitch to 100 people and things start to get old. Oftentimes, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Ensuring you come off as personable and trustworthy is key; try not to sound too impersonal or sales-y. If you can control the energy you give off in a call, you’re more likely to win the favor of a prospect and schedule an appointment for your AE. Being self-aware and knowing when to change your approach is so important in an SDR role. Simply knowing that you have areas to improve upon will help you be more successful.
We all know SDRs talk a lot—that’s their job. What many sales enablement teams tend to forget is that in lead generation, a sales pitch should resemble a conversation, not a rehearsed speech. Think about the last time you faced an objection during a pitch. What did you do? Unfortunately, your sales script probably wasn’t much help here. But picking up on subtle hints and cues by actively listening to a prospect will allow you to find solutions to these problems.
Active listening demonstrates genuine interest and makes the prospect feel like their needs are actually being heard. When you’re a good listener, you’ll also be able to handle objections better because you took note of what they actually said. Actively listen to prospects and you’ll close more deals while setting yourself apart from other SDRs on the team.
Part of being an SDR is the constant appointments, tasks, and statistics you have to keep track of in order to sell. An SDR is constantly juggling reporting numbers, meeting call quotas, and scheduling meetings, so it’s easy to fall into the trap of, “I can remember that; I don’t need a reminder.” No, you actually do. Keep a calendar, a clean desk, and stay organized. Make sure you always know what you have going on for the day, track your time if you can, and set goals for yourself to make sure you get everything accomplished that you need to. Set yourself up for success by staying on top of things and it’ll pay off in the long run.
Being shot down all day can be discouraging, but not for great SDRs. The best SDRs out there aren’t afraid of the discomfort that comes with sales—they embrace it. Top performers in this role don’t mind arguing with a prospect or getting rejected. They don’t mind being told no. They see it as an opportunity to use a great rebuttal; or, they simply move onto the next prospect. They continue doing their job and stay focused on goals. Being completely shameless in an SDR role will help you go far and set you apart as a top performer.
Hear from our Vice President of Sales Enablement why shamelessness is such an important quality she looks for in a strong SDR:
“My goal for our SDR team is that they become relentless and shameless in their prospecting for our company and sales team. I want them to be so confident in the solution Abstrakt sells and believe in how it impacts businesses and lives. I want them to be unapologetic in finding the right partners on every dial, every day!”
Finally, be coachable! Sales enablement strategies are constantly changing and goals are always shifting in sales. Even the best SDRs still have areas where they could improve, and it’s important that they are eager to learn. Your managers want to see you succeed, so listen to what they have to say. An SDR is a mini salesperson—these teams are the training grounds to become an AE. An SDR should absorb as much information as possible, constructively process criticism, and act on critiques to make positive changes.
At Abstrakt, we practice what we preach. Our internal SDR team works hard every day to grow our business, and we have a team of SDRs who are ready to grow yours. If you want a professional outsourced sales team that embodies the qualities we mentioned above, we have the solution. Let’s talk → schedule an appointment today.