How Life Experiences made me a Successful Sales Development Representative

On…Fishing, by Jack Carenza

Successful people make connections. And when I say that I do not mean from a networking perspective (although that kind of connection is also important). Successful people see the connective tissue that runs through their cumulative experiences. It is a very easy cop out to say to oneself, “When I was 16 I was a waitress at a barbecue restaurant. When I was 20 I was a receptionist at planet fitness. Now I am a Sales Development Representative.” Rather than view these experiences as separate entities, it is imperative to see the progression and underlying skills that allow an individual to thrive through each. By no means is this limited to work experience: it can incorporate athletics, hobbies, arts and personal relationships. With that being said, here’s the final installment in my blog miniseries; “How Life Experiences made me a Successful Sales Development Representative.”

The clichés are endless. “You have to be patient before you set the hook in a prospect. Oh, you couldn’t close that one? Oh well, there are other fish in the sea.” I could feed you line after line of the connections between fishing and prospecting. But to truly get you hook, line, and sinker, I will provide a unique take on the applicable lessons that intertwine these two passions of mine.

The most important part of fishing is knowing locations and conditions, and tailoring your tools and techniques based on these factors. On the Shetucket River in Southeastern CT where I was raised, there are particular pockets that are stocked more heavily, as well as deeper, slower waters that function as breeding areas for fish. My go-to lure has always been a Mepps spinner, and I know in sunny weather I am most effective with a silver spinner, and when it is overcast, I have best success with a gold. These seemingly mundane facts are often the difference between a prosperous day on the water, or going home with no fish.

Similarly, it is vital to know the conditions before adding a specific account to your call cadence. What is the climate like in the industry? What is the company currently using in their ecosystem? How successful is your product or service in the industry? Once you cover these more general questions, it is time to hone in on the fish (prospect). What are they hungry for? (pain points), what are they biting? (selling points) and what can you do to land them? (close a deal or set an appointment). A log or rock in the water can provide shade for fish in the summer. A prospect who is new to the company or position is a similar type of marker as someone who is likely to bite. In both fishing and sales development, the strategic planning process is often as important, if not more important than the action side of the procedure.

With all this planning, it can be extremely frustrating when things don’t go your way. Which is fine — sometimes it’s just not your day. You might see a trophy fish, and throw everything you have at it without a bite. You might find your ideal customer through prospecting, craft the most beautiful individualized email, and hear nothing back. What is important is to trust the process. If you keep following proven procedures, success will come your way.

So, finally, at the right time, with proper research and an innate understanding of your prospect’s environment, you have them hooked, on the line. After all the work to get them there, make sure you do not apply too much pressure or the line will break. Not enough pressure, and your prospect will drift away into deeper waters. Put in the proper research, and find the right balance; you will be sure to find yourself with a basket full of leads.

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