SDR to Manager
We all have mentors – the beauty of these people are the path they helped us pave in our professional careers. They kept us focused, motivated, and truly took an interest in catapulting us to places we never thought were attainable.
My mentor isn’t a “Thought-Leader” on LinkedIn and he doesn’t have 20k connections slapped on his headline either – What Brian Vital instilled into all his SDRs was a sense of sheer passion and understanding that it didn’t matter who you were or where you came from, but what you could become.
Brian Vital enabled me throughout my 3 phases of sales development: New SDR, Quota-Crushing SDR, and SDR Manager.
Phase 1: New SDR
Fresh out of college and coming off a short stint in finance, Brian Vital took a chance on me. My first interaction with Brian was during training when all the new SDRs sat nervously in a conference as he made calls to prospects. After each call, he would ask for our feedback on what we thought he could do better or point out key pieces of the conversations.
One conversation still resonates in my mind today – Brian called a prospect and the person thought he was an ex-boyfriend of his daughter calling him. We all thought the call was over, but Brian joked around with the prospect and immediately diffused the tension.
This taught me to always stay true to who I am as a person and to not turn into someone else or compromise who I was to “book a meeting”. Honesty and humility are what was instilled in me as I began my SDR Career – not call volume, cadences, social selling, or the perfect email subject line. This mentality allowed me to blossom into an SDR who truly cared about each prospect and to assess challenges as they arose, and naturally crushing quota every single month Brian and I worked together.
Phase 2: Quota-Crushing SDR
As I began to 1.5 and 2x my quota every single month, Brian continued to challenge me in new ways. If I set 2 meetings on a given day, he told me to do 4 the next day. As I began to hit these consistently, he began to push me even harder with the mindset of “Any rep can hit quota consistently, but if you can’t inspire and teach others around you, you won’t last long”.
This should be every SDR’s Mentality and I thank Brian for instilling this in me at the right time. Shortly after, we would go head to head on who could book the most meetings or bring in the most revenue. I thought it was a David vs. Goliath type matchup, but I slowly realized what Brian was doing – he started to put me in the same category as someone who brought 8M in Revenue for DiscoverOrg and it imbued a sense of confidence and attitude of “I belong here”.
Hearing Brian on the phones with the entire team was like being able to play alongside a sports legend. He led by example and we all benefitted greatly. As my career starting to take shape he presented me with my next challenge – managing an SDR while carrying a full quota.
Phase 3: SDR Manager
Beyond the constant competition between our teams, Brian allowed me to be included on executive level meetings to understand how a business operates or what keeps Directors, VPs, or Managers up at night.
There’s always a reason why Brian presented certain opportunities in front of me, and this is what makes him a transformative leader – always thinking months, even years down the road on how this would impact my overall growth.
Eventually, I took an opportunity to move to San Francisco and chase my dream of working in Silicon Valley. I’ll leave you with this – I firmly believe Brian is unique because he cared about me as a person and the first words that came out of his mouth when he found out I was transitioning to a new company were, “I’m proud of the person you’ve become”.
Manager to SDR
I was getting nervous, my record that held strong for > 1.5 years was in question. There’s no way Tanner could beat my 46 completed meetings in a month; wait, wait, wait a second!
It was a Wednesday, I won’t forget it.
At this very moment, my feelings evolved; they were not evolving, they evolved instantly. I started simply rooting for Tanner to beat my record, why? It would be the exclamation point on a business relationship I owe so much to.
What did Tanner teach me? – I’ll break it down
Humility and “You Before Me”- I did it all, I had many months with over 40 completes, had generated 1 million+ in numerous given quarters, and got so good, you could request an account, and I could get a meeting with one of the key personas within 2 hours. I was this good, in 2014. Tanner joined in 2015, he was better than me. In the life of an SDR, 2.5 years in, I was on the back nine.
Tanner inspired me to get back into SDR shape.
He pushed me to never stop learning by always learning himself. When I saw meetings set with “container” companies or another meeting with a company that received “X” or “Y” funding, I had to research what the hell he was talking about. I swear to god, my Google searches sky-rocketed once Tanner joined the team. He asked me a trillion questions weekly, sometimes I was looking at him in the eye and reading an answer from a Google search as the same time.
This all made me a better leader; it really did. I stopped just going through the motions. I was less focused on my individual number and more focused on further learning about the SDR role and the next great market for DiscoverOrg to penetrate. I took what I did in 2014 and combined it with what I was learning day-to-day. In that year, many SDRs on our squad were setting all types of personal goals, and at the same time; I was seeing my name drop on the individual leaderboard, all the while the team became the top team in the office. This was the real success, getting a team of 7 SDRs consistently over 150 completes is still one of my proudest achievements. What he taught me then, is something I keep with me today to keep me refreshed; there’s always something to learn.
What Makes a Great SDR-
Let’s keep this one short; you just read above about part of it. I take what Tanner naturally possessed and look for it in every hire I make today.
1. Natural curiosity in everything
3. Motivation starts with the fear of losing and ends with the satisfaction of being #1
4. Being a coach and being coachable.
(I can go into length on how to look for these traits, message me anytime)
“Tough-Love” Can Still Be a Style of Mentorship-
I was pretty tough on Tanner, I knew it would make him, but there were days I was scared it would break him. I call it “tough-love”. Tough love only works, if and only if, the toughness is backed by the love. Tanner, today is one of my best friends, we are about to meet-up in Fort Lauderdale in May to just talk business and relax. But, for the first year, we worked together, I was more “strict boss” than a friend. I always gave it to Tanner straight. How did I know Tanner could handle this style of coaching and mentorship?
During his first month, he had an abysmal completion rate of 29%, I told him we need to fix this ASAP, or you can’t work here. We started to meet daily on the results of his meetings; and went over each meeting he scheduled. In due time, it was quite evident his discovery was weak and needed improvement. He started to gather cell phone numbers through discovery and re-selling DiscoverOrg throughout the discovery process. He, of course, was the first one to tell me that it was over 75% in month 2. It was at this time I knew he was going to love to 1) push to be the best 2) love to prove me wrong; two traits that work well with tough-love.