If you’ve been in the sales arena for as long as I have, you know by now that however much you improve and make your reps stick to the cadence, you cannot have your reps become zombies. An SDR is the front runner of the sales process and is the first human interaction the customer has during the Sales Discovery Process.
You cannot make today’s SDRs stick to one hygiene regime and expect them to get the same results month after month. There is a need to train them in such a way that they build on critical skills right from the beginning instead of relying on other managers/executives in the future.
If you are an SDR, you need to know that just by doing what you are told, you will never catch that promotion. Convincing and talking to people is your basic job, and you need to be good at it to get anywhere in this field. You need to read, re-read and build skills from the bottom up so that you know when the time comes, you will be able to handle all that extra responsibility (and the money, obviously) that comes your way.
Below are the 10 skills which you should be focusing on from your first day. Work on gaining them, and if you already possess them, concentrate on honing them. If you are a manager, incorporate these when you are training your SDRs.
1. Befriending the phone
This is a no-brainer. When your main job role is to pick up the phone and talk to strangers, the phone should be your best friend. No matter how confident we are, some people still attach awkwardness to cold calls. If you want to get anywhere, you need to try and give up this fear.
Practice is key. Practice with your colleagues, your friends, you yourself in front of the mirror, anything counts. Just know that this will help you in the future in ways that you cannot even fathom now.
2. Active Listening
Understanding your prospect’s pain points and learning where is it that they actually need help should be your top priority. On a typical cold call, your prospects should be talking for about 70% of the time, whereas the SDR only 30%. A good SDR will know when to keep shut and when to talk.
Selling your product should be your first priority, by now you know this. But you cannot sell something to someone unless you understand if they really have a requirement for it. On a cold call, make sure you are not speeding up your conversation just to get through your questionnaire, and gauge how and where you can pitch in and help them. This will enhance the trust of your customers in you, and will eventually give you a close.
As iterated before, to be a successful SDR, you cannot just follow the cadence, finish all the steps you need to, and be done with it. Success highly depends on what efforts you can put into thinking outside the box.
Yes, you’re trying everything: Linkedin, twitter, cold emails, cold calling, but think about them, have you tried anything new lately? Have you found any new ways to connect with prospects? Tried a new way of approaching them?
To be noticed and stand out from the hoard of SDRs in your team, trust me, you will have to learn to dive into the next stage. You can’t just keep doing what you do currently and expect growth.
4. Rapport Building
In a role such as this, where your main communication goes out through phone and email, it's usually a bit difficult to get your point across. Since there is no face-to-face interaction, there is a higher possibility of being misunderstood through your tone or language.
Emails are even worse, you have no idea what tone the customer is talking in and how they would perceive the message you are trying to get across. The best way to overcome this is to start warming up the prospect long before you get to the actual selling. Connect with them on social media platforms, mostly LinkedIn. Start tagging them in articles pertaining to there area of interest or business. The aim is to first build a relationship with the person, and then get to the sales discovery call. And since you've already connected with him informally, there will be no room for misunderstandings.
5. Being persistent and not losing hope
Being an SDR is a tough job, no doubt. You call people and send emails every day, which can be quite exhausting. And unlike account executives who actually work on closing the sale, the glory is limited in this role.
But that’s the point; This is how you learn resilience and perseverance. When you are low on energy and/or are exhausted beyond measure, it will definitely show up in your communication. People are very observant of these matters and your unenthusiasm will definitely get picked up.
In such situations, it is necessary to keep your morale high and energy upbeat. There will be rude prospects, a call might not go well, or you’re just having a bad day. Developing your ability to keep a level head and bounce back from such setbacks is crucial. Learning how to get back up from such dejections is the key, and honing this skill is the best thing you can do for the future you.
6. Learn how to leave awesome voicemails
Knowing how to leave good voicemails is an indispensable skill for an SDR. There will be a lot of times where you have to leave one, and leaving a concise message like “Hey I’m ABC calling from XYZ and wanted to have a quick chat” will barely make a dent.
Personally, I think you should include a small statement about how you can add value. This makes a huge impact than just asking them to give you their time. Something on the lines of: “Hey ABC, I was just going through your website and saw XYZ strategy.I would like to have a chat about some ideas on making that better.”
This shows that you are not just trying to reach your numbers on your CRM, and are actually trying to help the customer fix or solve a certain issue.
7. Being more curious than the cat could ever be
As a contributing member of the sales team, you need to know a LOT. So, its important that you want to know a lot. Curiosity is what you should be looking to build in your time in the company.
Not knowing your product or its recent updates can cost you more than you think.
75% of customers say that a person with good product knowledge is all they need according to this study. They want someone who can explain the product and answer any questions they have, and this can only come when you are thorough with your product knowledge.
If you are a sales manager, you should have a weekly meeting to incorporate any updates in the product and make sure to train and test all new SDRs to be the best in product knowledge.
8. Being tech-savvy
This you cannot miss. Even if you don’t like being on Social Media, or are not very tech-savvy, you need to incorporate this. All products are some components or are related in some way to the internet now. You should be aware and comfortable with your sales software, CRM, social media adaptiveness, and any tech updates about your product.
Technology is dynamic and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, and the same goes for you too. Getting continuous training and regular use of technology is the crux of honing this skill.
The biggest chunk of your lifetime in sales will go in talking to customers on the phone or leaving voicemails. Sometimes, even when we don’t realize it, our voice modulates, depending upon the mood we are in, energy levels, and overall events of the day.
Try to keep your voice neutral. It will take a lot of practice and conscious thinking while talking (which is annoying, I know). But you need to learn this. Smiling also helps. Even when no one can see you, if you talk with a smile, it will get conveyed through the phone. People tend to catch up on these things.
Voice modulation is something you should work on, and try being a bit more animated as even when nobody can see your face, they can sense the urgency and excitement in your tone.
Patience, patience, patience. Ah! How many times have we heard this before? But in all seriousness, this is THE most important thing you need to develop to survive in this field. There will be bad days, the customer will scream at you, people will punish you for their bad days, they will shut the door in your face (or slam the phone in your ear), and call you by all the names you can fathom.
But just like Captain Marvel, you need to get back up again. Every. Single. Time. Don’t let rejections, rude comments or abusive words get to you. Mostly, when a customer is angry or confused, his/her anger is directed towards the company and not towards you.
Try not to let these things get you down, and remember, at the end of the day, this is a job and not your whole life. You will have time to recover from it and get back up on that horse. Be patient, let things run their course, and try to keep your calm even in the worst of situations.
Just by developing these 10 skills and honing them over time can make you a better all-round sales professional. If you are a manager, hopefully, you got some new areas to train your SDRs on.
There is no rocket science and it is fairly simple in theory, but implementation is another ball game. Look to improve on these skills over time, and see the change yourself.