Why I Hire Problem Solvers and You Should too

There are many different skills and personality traits that make up a great SDR. Intelligent, self-motivated, team player, competitive, hardworking, avid learner and overachieving are a few of my favorites. That being said, one specific skill all successful SDRs seem to have in common is their ability to solve problems. Not only their own problems but their prospects’ problems as well. There are many reasons why this is such an essential trait for a rock star SDR – or really any role – but for now, let’s just focus on the top 3.

Problem Solving for Prospects & Customers

SDRs are tasked with reaching out to and developing relationships with a vast array of personas every single day. As SDR leaders we should be focused on training our best and brightest to not just smile and dial but to actively play a role in and understand how they can actually help these personas in their day to day businesses. That’s how we truly earn a prospect’s trust and, ultimately, their business. Never in the early stages of these discovery conversations should we be pitching or selling our products. In fact, using product names in initial conversations are bad words as far as I’m concerned. Since our core audience at PGi is focused on collaboration and communication tools in the workplace, around here we lead with the challenges and issues that marketers and IT folk most likely struggle with in their specific roles on a daily basis. We zero in on their pain points and what negatively impacts their ability to be successful. Obviously, we’re not fortune tellers so we won’t always pick the right challenge out of the gate but, this enables my team to start the conversation in order to better identify those pain points and make a personal connection. It is in the ever so careful poking and prodding process that actually allows us to not only get the initial meeting, but is the breeding ground for a personal connection. If our focus is genuinely on their success, we gain their trust.  If we gain their trust, we can help them begin to understand what success can truly mean. It is then and only then, we can finally start to lead them down the path of problem solving and solutions; provided that we are in fact the right fit and worthy of the opportunity.

Oftentimes SDRs are reaching out to people in jobs they’ve never personally done. When I was starting out as an SDR, I was two years out of college with an English degree. I was tasked with calling on marketing directors to sell marketing automation technology (Vtrenz – there’s a fun throwback). My second SDR role was even more of a stretch as I was focused on supply chain and finance leaders, discussing how to automate their purchase order to payment process. I didn’t even know what a supply chain was when I started working there. That didn’t matter, though. I had a leader that understood that proper training and empowerment was all I needed to be successful. With proper training under my belt, I studied everything I could to better understand my audience’s world, talked to mentors and colleagues who were peers of that audience and then, just figured it out. Which leads us nicely to my next point…

Problem Solving Through Tough Situations

Leaders need to properly train, coach and empower their SDRs so that they are able to “figure it out.” SDRs run into so many different situations throughout their day where they need to make smart, quick decisions. For instance, if an SDR is on a “warm call” with a prospect and then suddenly is hit with an objection they don’t hear often, or wasn’t included in their playbook, having the flexibility and ability to pivot in a conversation is critical to their success. During my time as an SDR I called a prospect years ago to pitch him on how automating their supply chain was going to save them millions. I was prepared and ready to take on the call when all of a sudden his assistant answered the phone. I asked if I could speak with her boss and she told me he had JUST DIED. Completely caught off guard by her response, I quickly muttered “I’m so sorry,” and hung up immediately. Now that’s an extreme example, but it takes a certain kind of finesse and quick thinking to appropriately respond to some situations that may take an unexpected turn.

In any given moment your team needs to be able to solve many different types of challenges – big and small – in very short amounts of time so they can get hit their activity goals for the day. If your day is anything like mine, as a leader and people manager you do not always have the dedicated time to answer questions all day from multiple direct reports. That’s why training and coaching your teams – not just during their onboarding process, but in an ongoing manner – is so critical to enable and empower them to make these decisions on their own. I’m always there to answer questions but, for the most part, I trust that my team has a high level of comfortability to take on the challenges and the tasks ahead of them with ease.

Problem Solving SDRs are Future Leaders

This one is my favorite. Problem solving skills are promotable. They are important for any job, at any level, in any industry. A good problem solver is smart, adaptable and flexible in the ever-changing world we live and work in daily. They understand the bigger picture and are highly capable of responding to prospects, customers and partners in the most strategic way possible, with the information they have available to them. However, being a good problem solver isn’t always about trying to solve everything on your own. Smart SDRs also know when they need to pull in their leadership for more complicated scenarios and whether or not they are equipped enough to handle the situation on their own.

Being a strong problem solver is a skill that can make for a super successful SDR who, when ready, can be anything he or she wants to be. That’s the goal for us as leaders, right? Hiring, training, managing and ultimately promoting really awesome people, is most definitely mine. I always say it’s important to invest heavily in problem solvers because you just might work for them someday.

– Kristin Agnelli –

Kristin is currently the Senior Director of Lead Development and Field Marketing for PGi, a global collaboration and conferencing technology provider headquartered in Alpharetta, GA. She has 10+ years experience in sales and marketing roles and has been leading SDR teams for 5 years. When she’s not at work, Kristin is hanging out with her husband and two boys. She would love to hear your feedback, questions, and comments!

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