SDRs Past and Present
Who They Are and What to Expect
Believe it or not, the Sales Development Representative (SDR…or BDR, or ISR, or ADR, or— whatever you want to call it) is a relatively new position. It feels like these roles have been around forever— that hybrid sales/marketing rep who supports both departments and bridges the gap between them is a common (and often undervalued) position at most companies. The truth is, modern day SDRs are nothing like what they used to be. They’re grinders, thick-skinned, and have this relentless attitude about them. They’re also product experts, metrics driven, and have a knack for lead nurturing.
A lot of people look back to the days of Boiler Room cold calling and think: “yeah, that’s what an SDR does. Blast through a list and try to setup meetings.” It’s hard to look at what these reps do now and what that rep did in the past and say they are anything alike. Understanding the role of an SDR and how it’s changed from the boiler room rep over the years will not only give you a new appreciation of the job, but help you understand what to expect from them and what they can feasibly deliver.
Take a look at the evolution of the SDR through some of our past blogs below:
Let Mick Jagger be the Rockstar. Hire the guy who signs his paychecks.
Other than “work hard, play hard” the term “Rockstar” is the most criminally overused phrase in sales. “Rockstar qualities like arrogance, pushiness, and a tendency to destroy hotel rooms used to be prized on an inside sales floor” — but teams are starting to shy away from those qualities in favor of a more strategic and intellectual approach to the whole thing. Sales reps are working deeper down the funnel more than before, and because of that the process of sales development is becoming more tactical and less aggressive.
Instead of getting that brash and over the top rep, “ look for someone with curiosity, some cognitive ability and an understanding of the big picture.”
Lessons in sales, rock ‘n roll, and life.
Wow, we talk about rockstars a lot. Still, it’s (apparently) a metaphor that works AND gets the point across. You run into a lot of different people when prospecting, and it’s important that you put on a different face for each of them. Your audience as an SDR or a Rockstar will always be big, but when you focus on one individual (or group of individuals) and tailor your message to each one to them, you’re going to reap the benefits. “ Develop different strategies and increase your knowledge so you can take on whatever type of personality you run into.”
Walter’s neurotic tendencies taught us one rule for success: Don’t settle for anything less than your absolute best work.
Walter White taught us many life lessons throughout Breaking Bad’s run on TV, and believe it or not a lot of them are applicable to the sales world. If he were a sales consultant, Mr. White would be teaching lessons to move SDRs out of the boiler room era and into the new age of Sales Development. Things like properly nurturing prospects through the funnel, treading lightly and listening intently, giving it your full effort at all times, and remaining motivated beyond the dollar sign are all ideals he would teach. Learn from the best to become the best…and we’re not talking about cooking meth.
To have a successful sales team, you need strong components that work together in cohesion for a clear, common goal.
Every person on your sales team has a different role to play, and your SDR is no different. They fit in to the rest of the organization just as seamlessly as a running back fits into an NFL offense (despite the current criticism of the position). Understanding where to best utilize and integrate them into your team (instead of leaving them on the sideline or stashing them on the practice squad) will help you develop a winning strategy.
Is Cold Calling dead? No, the Undead are dead.
Something that every SDR strives for is to be different. Gone are the days of call scripts and boiler room atmospheres — nowadays you have to stand out from the crowd to get on someone’s radar. Focusing on customization and tailoring your message to a specific individual or audience is a great way to do this. In a similar sense, being a human will add an element to the conversation that prospects appreciate. Preparation is also key, and demonstrating that you’ve done your research and have the prospect’s interest in mind goes a long way.
Hire right and end up with a productive sales development rep, not a dreaded sales development robot.
With SDRs on the rise as a whole, understanding how you manage them is becoming more of a necessity. This begs the question: Do you hire internally, or do you outsource?
They both have pros and cons (check out a more in-depth analysis on that here), and understanding what functions you can’t live without will lead you to find exactly what you need. Do you want your SDRs to remain that invisible force, driving leads for the sales team (much like a machine, or robot, would do)? Or do you want them involved in the decision making when it comes to what accounts and titles to target? Getting the best of both worlds is tough, but it could mean the difference between hiring a rep or a robot.
Hodor is a great character — well liked and a hard worker. If he were to land a sales development job in Westoros, however, he certainly wouldn’t be a top performer.
The modern day SDR doesn’t use a script — they work on the fly. Conversations take unexpected twists and turns and you have to be ready to go down those paths. Hodor, on the other hand, has one path. It’s the same answer over and over again. “Rather than repeating slightly different versions of their script in an effort to avoid answering specific questions, SDRs should give careful consideration to each prospect question and provide answers that both qualify and help the prospect.”
Making sure your SDRs can answer and return open-ended questions is key in separating a good SDR from a Hodor.
Pro tip: Don’t do it.
The job of an SDR can be overwhelming — it can feel like you’re being pulled in multiple directions and have no time to get everything done. The normal reaction to that would be multi-tasking: You want to finish off that industry specific campaign you started a week back, but you also want to spend time on your client’s list of target accounts. You might feel like you’re drowning in unqualified leads, and a strong push of activity will help you wade through them all.
Resist that urge. Instead of focusing on getting through what you have, focus on prioritizing the leads you have and partnering with the right technology to get you through your day. “ By prioritizing your accounts and partnering with the right technologies, SDR’s will be able to fully focus on the task at hand before moving on to the next one.”
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