There are plenty of sales development reps (SDRs) out there, trying to make money by relying on hope-based sales strategies. But great salespeople are motivated by more than money. And being a successful SDR can pave the path for your future successful career in sales.
What separates a great SDR from the rest? Great SDRs break down their days into simple, approachable segments. They’re also focused on the customer first, and have the sincere belief that their product can solve a customer’s serious problems. It’s not just about getting the appointment – it’s about touching on real issues and uncovering pain. A great SDR won’t set a meeting for the sake of a meeting.
As an SDR, you’ll want to structure your schedule in a way that facilitates your success. When you can weave empathy and customer-focus into your day, you’re on the right track. Use this checklist to guide you.
1. In the beginning of the day, take 5 minutes at the start of each day to set goals.
You should have both long-term goals and short-term goals that will help you achieve them. The long term goals can answer questions like this:
- What are my future career goals, and where do I need to go to attain them?
- What metrics are most important for me in this role (qualitative and quantitative)?
- Who is my SDR role model and what have they done that I can emulate?
- How will I know what success looks like?
Although you won’t be working toward your long-term goals directly every day, they can guide your daily prioritization of smaller tasks that eventually help you achieve those goals.
2. Define your most important task of the day.
Every day you’ll have competing priorities. But when it comes down to it, if there’s one thing you could get done in the day, what would it be? Manny Alamwala, founder of The Sales Journal, says: “Humans are terrible multi-taskers. Writing down one major task for the day will hold us accountable and put it in our subconscious throughout the day. Over time, achieving that one major task every day will put the SDR on top of the leaderboard.”
3. Perform lead triage.
Your day will mostly be structured around pursuing leads. Many of your leads will be a waste of time. Technology can help you differentiate between a good lead and a dead end. Tools like Fileboard Workflow for SDRs can help you:
- Prioritize the leads that require immediate follow-up
- Segment your leads based on everything from the time they view an attached file, to their engagement with the content, to the times they answer your phone call
- Understand how leads respond to nurture emails, and
- Identify where your leads are in the buying process and how qualified they are
4. Check for distractions, and get rid of them.
It’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re going through a part of your day that’s repetitive. Put your cell phone away and be disciplined with your calendar. If you’ve scheduled yourself one hour to make calls, don’t break into that time slot for anything except the emergencies. Create a script for in-office interruptions, like: “I’m not available right now, can we discuss this later?” Also, shut down notifications from email alerts, LinkedIn, etc. The biggest interruptions can come from co-workers, and notifications can be constantly distracting. If you manage these, you’re creating room to focus.
5. Choose one way to be creative each day.
In order to stand out from other sales messages your prospect gets, find one way to be creative each day. It could be through your messaging or your outreach strategy. If it’s a holiday, wish them a happy one. If you’ve found a resource that will help them, shoot it over to them. It could be just one prospect, or it could be your whole list. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and be deliberate about setting up creative endeavors each day. The best outcomes might spring from somewhere you didn’t expect until you tried it.
6. Develop processes that can be used across several different situations.
As an SDR, you’ll have different buyer personas and different scenarios. If you group your buyers together, you’ll see that buyers at the same point often behave in predictable ways. You can make your life easier by creating personalized sales automation workflows that help you book more meetings faster.
7. In the middle of your day, take a three-minute resilience check.
As an SDR, your job is hard and can get tiring very quickly. If you don’t believe strongly that what you can offer can help people, the day-to-day of an SDR can get demoralizing. Take a three-minute resilience check to give yourself a pep talk, recharge, and remind yourself of the reasons why you’re doing what you do. These small check-ins can help you approach your day with courage and optimism.
8. Take note of the competition.
What is the average SDR doing in your company? When you’re aware of the success metrics, you’ll understand how you stack up. Take a moment to understand where you fall. If more experienced SDRs are achieving better results, try to figure out what they’re doing right.
And if you’re the only SDR at your company, there’s still a lot to look at and learn from. For example, you can have a free sales review of your calls from somewhere like Exec Vision, which will break down your call like a sports game tape. There are many ways to understand whether your calls are effective, or whether you can book more first meetings, whether you’re on a big team or a team of one.
9. Add some healthy competition.
If you’re stuck in a rut, you can challenge a couple of colleagues and compete for an hour or so on who makes the most calls. If you do this once a week, you might find your motivation gets renewed and you think of new, creative ways to approach your to-do list.
10. Before the day is over, have a quick chat with the salespeople you’re working with.
Whether you’re booking meetings for multiple salespeople or just one of them, establishing a good rhythm with them is critical. You may want to set up daily or weekly check-ins to set expectations about qualifying prospects. You can ask your salespeople for advice, and develop an understanding of how you can make prospect handovers as smooth as possible. Ask them when they have the most success with calling people, and take your cues from them.
11. Take some time to disqualify prospects.
It might feel sinful to disqualify prospects, but it’s important to trim your list of leads. While many prospects will hesitate before committing, there are some red flags you can watch out for. They look like this:
- Your prospect is rude or antagonistic
- Your prospect clams up and will not engage in conversation or answer your questions
- Your prospect makes untruthful or misleading statements
- Your prospect notes that the problem you’re solving is not a priority for their company
- Your prospect is uncooperative about implementation, and doesn’t seem to be able to follow any of your directions
- Your prospect is unengaged or just going through the motions
12. Make an entry in your own SDR playbook.
If you were writing a job description for your own job, what would it say? Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is training an SDR. Start creating a playbook full of strategies, tips, case studies, and quick wins that have worked for you. Over time, this compendium of knowledge will give you self-awareness into your habits and successes as an SDR.
13. Take 5 minutes at the end of your day to reflect on your day and track your results.
Don’t have one single unexamined day. As you’re wrapping up, reflect on your results and adjust for the next day, week, or month. Did you challenge yourself today, this week, and this month? If not, you should find new ways to do so. Complacency is the enemy of the SDR.
Take the time to analyze your good calls and your bad calls to see what you could have done better. You’ll probably find common threads in both the good and bad conversations. What takeaways do you have?
Great SDRs aren’t made overnight. But your daily habits can set you up to make real strides. SDRs are strategic assets for sales teams, and you should recognize that you play a critical role. Whether you’re entry level or experienced, you’re a vital strategic component to a competitive and ambitious sales operation. What you do each day will have a real impact.