From zero to hero: 5 tips on beginning your SDR career.

Sales Development. It takes a special kind of person to take on this challenge. Reps have to be strong willed and hungry to serve as the front lines for an organization they believe in. If you are reading this, you have taken that challenge and I commend you for it. We are in this together.

Like most other SDRs, especially if you are in the tech space, you have probably just graduated from university. Chances are, however, you didn’t study inside sales and have a lot of learning to do to become the next best SDR.

While this will be different for each person and each organization, I thought it would be worthwhile to share a few tips that I include in some of my onboarding sessions at Uberflip. My hope is that you will turn yourself from generic newbie SDR #145 into one of the biggest pieces in your sales teams puzzle.


Fail fast, learn fast

Every new hire that I onboard gets the same line from me about 2 weeks in, ‘Get on the phones right away. Connect with people and learn from those conversations. If you succeed, that’s fantastic, but know that at some time you will fail. If you do fail, fail fast and identify what you need to improve and what would have made that call successful. The sooner you fail, the quicker you will grow into a successful SDR’.

Some may perceive this as negative thinking, but, it is important to say. As a new SDR, before you get on the phones and get some experience under your belt, you really don’t know anything. As much as you can learn your product and the general pain points of your buyers before you start prospecting, you cannot learn how to handle every objection, hold a conversation with a prospect having a terrible day, or (God forbid) how to recover a conversation after calling a person the wrong name. The most successful SDRs will tell you that their early failures helped them to perfect their messaging, know how to handle every conversation, and ultimately be more successful. Don’t be afraid of failure!


Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Sales is sometimes perceived to be a cut-throat, dog-eat-dog world, where nobody in their right mind is going to sacrifice a couple minutes of their time to help another rep. On top of this stigma, some new reps will believe, incorrectly, that asking for help is a sign of weakness.

Times have changed. Sales has evolved and while competition still exists, in the more successful cultures, it is more friendly in nature. Regardless of the title or position they currently hold, chances are every member of your sales team has gone through the same issues you are currently facing and will be more than willing to help you conquer any challenge you are currently facing.

If your team is building a powerful sales tribe, then your success is every other sales reps’ success too. Just remember, however, that you won’t be spoon fed. If you need the help, get out there and ask for it!


Be personable with your prospects

As a new hire, you will find yourself surrounded by ramped SDRs with a full pipe of leads that have been working for a long time. To fit in, you will feel that high activity numbers will be the only way to earn your stripes and a firm handshake from your boss. The error in this is that you will be spraying and praying. Not taking the love and care needed to build relationships with prospects.

We live in a wonderful era for sales. Prospects are literally everywhere – Twitter, Linkedin, the comments section of this post. Finding ways to tailor your outreach to your prospect has never been easier. Mention their recent blog in your voicemail, include a p.s. in your email referencing the weekend result of their favourite sports teams. At the end of the day, people want to be spoke to like humans. Before you send any email or are about to leave a voicemail ask yourself ‘If I received this, would I know it was delivered by a real person?’


Let your creativity free

This tip could probably live inside the previous one, but it really deserves it’s own section. Whether you are a fresh-faced university grad or have transitioned to sales after years in another field, chances are sales isn’t your only interest. You have a creative side that is alive and well in your other hobbies.

Now, listen carefully here.


It cannot be stressed how great an uptick you will see in your results if you let your creativity enter your sales work. As an example, you are probably reading this on a laptop with a camera. Why not create a screenshare video with webcam using a tool like ViewedIt to highlight some of the things you were going to write in an email? Another example would be to paint an analogy between your value prop and something that your prospect holds dear.

Nobody can ever knock you for getting creative and it will make you stand out like a diamond in the rough amongst the other 1000 SDRs vying for that prospects attention.


Go beyond your Sales Development role

This last one is more of an enjoyment of life and overall happiness tip. When you join a company as an SDR, you will be so laser-focused on sales that nothing but hitting quota will seem important. That isn’t the case. You probably work at a company you believe in, with people who you like. Going beyond your role is what makes the difference between ‘oh man, this sales job is a drag’ and ‘oh man, I cannot wait to get back into the office tomorrow’. Look for new and exciting ways to expand beyond your job description and you’ll soon find yourself making a bigger impact on your company and you might just smile a little more!

If you are a long standing SDR, the above points are probably self-explanatory and sort of obvious, but I challenge you to arm your new hires with those tips. On the flip side, if you are new into the Sales Development world, take those tips with you and run. Work harder and better than you ever have, but remember to be that spritely university grad that your hiring manager loved.


Happy prospecting!


Nathan is a Senior Team Lead of Business Development at Uberflip. The views in this post are those of Nathan and do not necessarily reflect those of Uberflip. You can find him on LinkedIn and Twitter, or watching any and all football (soccer) matches.

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