5 Tips for SDR’s moving to become AE’s

Before I dialed the phone for the first time, I was already thinking about closing my first deal. I was wide-eyed and uneducated about SaaS, the sales process and just about everything if I’m being honest. I had just left finance to join Yotpo…and I wasn’t in a closing role… I was Yotpo’s 12th SDR hire – really putting the cart before the horse in my thinking.

With only 5 or 6 rows, our office was pretty small. We only had a handful of AE’s at that time and were rapidly expanding the SDR program. The office’s pure startup vibe left me daydreaming about the possibilities of rapid career growth.

It felt like an eternity, but it was absolutely necessary for me to be an SDR first. Moving to an AE role was nowhere near what I expected…

Instead of prospecting and qualifying hoping that you can book a meeting, you are now:

  • building rapport
  • running more thorough exploratories
  • learning about implicit and explicit needs
  • driving urgency
  • dealing with competition
  • more advanced objections from prospects
  • and the list goes on…

There’s a few things I did that helped me during my transition:

  1. Listen to your calls!
    1. Routinely pull your calls and listen to them with your manager, mentor or co-workers. It’s like studying game tape.
      1. Study your good calls and be ready to relive the bad ones. That will help you improve the most.
  2. Barge in on your colleagues’ calls. Everyone has their specialities, some people are great at negotiating, other are phenomenal at building rapport and others may be quick on their feet for handling objections. Listen to your colleagues and learn from them.
  3. Find a mentor. This is essential. Whether you’re a struggling SDR or top performer, there is still so much to learn from the experienced reps on the floor. They’ve been there for terrible months, miracles on the last day of the month/quarter, fixed various parts of their game, have valuable relationships that you can leverage and they’ve most likely had someone (a mentor) take them out for a don’t kill yourself coffee (it’s not all sunshine and rainbows on the other side…I promise).
  4. Relationships – there’s a few types of networking you push yourself to do:  amongst the team, with those above you, with those who may be newer in the organization just joining and a step below you, outside of your team (marketing, customer success, sales ops) and outside of your organization to other SaaS companies. It’s important. You get caught up in what you and your team are thinking – this groupthink leads to tunnel vision. Diversity of thought will lead to open mindedness and new ways to approach each conversation, a necessity for expeditious success in sales.
  5. Read! Sales blogs like Sales Hacker and HubSpot are great. Also books like SPIN Selling helped me a lot.

It’s been three months since I made the transition. I’m still learning. Since then, we’re a much different company now with about 100 employees and have hired 50 SDR’s. I’m much different now, as well. I still have the same hunger from before I dialed the phone for the first time, but now I have a much better understanding of our company, our market, our customer and SaaS.

Now, I’m ready to start thinking about this as a career and the long-game. As an SDR, everything is so new and you’re taking it all in. It’s easy to forget about the long-game.

Don’t lose sight of what you’re trying to accomplish and keep your eye on the longer term vision. That’s what will help you make the transition to become an AE and continue to progress in your career.

If this gave you value, then any comments, likes, shares or private messages are greatly appreciated.

-Jay Bhagat-

Before coming to Yotpo, Jay worked in finance as an Associate at Richter Bober Asset Management. He joined Yotpo as an SDR and was one of the first SDR’s to matriculate into Yotpo’s Associate Account Executive program. When he’s not hitting the phones, Jay likes boxing and listening to music.

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