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What Do You Need to Know about Being an SDR? Ask an Expert

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You’d be forgiven for not wanting to attend an event called “The SADNESS Project.” But a few weeks back, the inimitable Corporate Bro convened a panel discussion under that very name. And when you remember that, in Corporate Bro’s world, SADNESS is an acronym for Sales Are Dope, Never, Ever Stop Selling, you realize that such an event might in fact be right up your alley if you’re a sales professional on a come-up. 

 

Today, we thought we’d focus on one of the panelists who were included in the event: Sarah Brazier, a Sales Development Representative at Gong.io. Sarah has become something of an authority on top-funnel sales and a thought leader on LinkedIn. The insight she shared with the panel and its audience can serve as useful guidance for SDRs, as well as the managers who lead them. Let’s explore some of that insight here.

Keys to success for Sales Development Representatives

Here are some things Sarah thinks SDRs should keep in mind if they hope to be successful in their roles in today’s sales environment.

Time to sharpen your objection-handling skills

Historically, the typical objections SDRs receive from prospects are around time and budget: “We’re not ready to switch vendors right now” or “We’ve already used all of our spend for the quarter” or “call me back in 6 months.” Those objections are easy enough to talk around. Just about any sales organization will have go-to responses baked into their sales playbook.

“It’s time to take a new inventory of the common objections you hear as an SDR, and to develop tailored responses to them.”

Now, though, things are more serious – or, as Sarah puts it, the objections SDRs are getting are “a lot more real.” Thanks to the constricting economy, there are a plethora of reasons a prospect may be hesitant to buy. And those objections are likely to be completely legit, not just an excuse the prospect uses to get off the phone. It’s time to take a new inventory of the common objections you hear as an SDR, and to develop tailored responses to them.

All about empathy

Importantly, the responses you deploy in your objection handling can’t be fully self-interested. They have to be sincere, and they have to take into account your prospects’ priorities and the hardship they might be going through. The key is empathy, which Sarah defines as the ability to imagine what someone else’s situation is like, and to speak to that person from their perspective. Your job is to empathize with a prospect and make them emotionally bought-in to your product.

The discovery call is more important than ever

These days, it might not be enough to deliver your elevator pitch in the first 15 seconds of your first call with a prospect, and then immediately hard sell them on seeing a demo. With new and more serious reservations coming from prospects, it might take more time to build a business case for your product. Think about adding a discovery call to your flow, so that prospects have a chance to decide for themselves if your product can actually help them through this tough time rather than presenting an expense they can’t afford.

For managers: How to get people excited for an SDR role

Sarah and other sales experts are speaking out against the notion that Sales Development Representatives are somehow the runts of the sales team, and that the role is some kind of professional purgatory on the way to a promotion to an Account Executive role. Her advice to managers looking to hire SDRs: Don’t position the role as just a 6-month grind to simply endure until the promotion finally comes.

 

Instead, highlight some of the things that make being an SDR a truly great opportunity:

 

  • It provides the chance to start building hard sales skills right at the start of someone’s career. 
  • It gives reps an up-close look at the inner workings of the company – a great learning experience.
  • As a role that directly touches both sales and marketing, it makes reps an extremely valuable voice within the organization. 

 

Sales Development Representatives have always been critical to the success of a tech sales organization. But too frequently, they’re also undervalued. This is a profession that addresses significant challenges – especially today – and adds significant value. That’s how you need to view the role if you hope to be successful, whether you’re a rep or a manager.