Have you taken a more thorough look at your sales development representatives lately? As a CEO of a larger business, or as a manager, what’s your experience? Are the old tactics of calls, voicemails, and sequenced emails still working? Or is it time to mix things up a bit?
By the nature of their jobs, sales development representatives have quite a few great opportunities to help executives close new deals and grow the organization.
And it’s true, the tried and tested methods would still work for some businesses out there, but for the vast majority of companies out there, there might be a few new skills (hard and soft alike) that could give the sales team a second wind and lead them to even better deals.
After this, you can guess that in this blog post, we will be talking about the skill set that’s going to dominate sales in the upcoming years.
What are SDR Sales?
First of all, you need to know that SDR stands for sales development representative. Simply put, a person who plays this role has outbound prospecting as its primary focus, moving leads down the sales funnel, qualifying every lead the sales team connects with. SDRs themselves don’t close deals, they help sales reps to determine whether that deal would make a worthwhile customer or not.
What do these sales development representatives actually do? Well, mostly, they are measured on their ability to move the leads through the sales funnel and to nurture the connection with the highest-quality leads up until closing a deal.
Apart from that, good sales reps are also measured on their ability to close a certain number of deals that exceed or meet their sales quota for a particular time period. These two roles or functions are different, they still rely on each other to meet business and individual goals.
In practice, these things look somewhat like this: First, the marketing team sends the “lead list” to the SDRs who then qualify and nurture the leads until they are ready to become customers and make a purchase. Sales reps are the ones who take over at this stage and position the most suitable products at the most appropriate time to speed up the deal closing process.
This is a simple workflow that is the base of most sales operations but it does not mean that the role of an SDR will be easy. Becoming successful in this position means that you need a set of hard and soft skills that can help close the deal and leave the lead (now customer) wanting to come back for more.
SDR Skills for 2022
So, without further ado, here are those soft and hard skills that will help reshape the SDR landscape in the future.
Highly Customized Outreach Tactics
Let’s be honest here. SDRs have it pretty rough when it comes to balancing quality and quantity in the process of prospecting.
On one hand, your goal is to create a healthy sales funnel to make your sales rep’s job easier. On the other hand, you know that luring in quality deals is a longer process.
Some experts predict that there’s going to be a balance shift in this perspective, with more reps and SDRs slowing down and spending more time in the outreach and connecting periods with fewer, but higher-quality prospects.
One great way to balance quality and quantity is by personalizing the outreach process, with highly personalized addresses and always addressing the problem that the lead had previously vocalized.
As you can see, quality is just as important as quantity when it comes to sales prospecting. Oftentimes today, SDRs spend too much time with lead qualifying before connecting them. While allocating time based on the quality of the given leads is utterly important, most SDRs still need practice and actual communication with the prospect to see just how “quality” that lead is.
For instance, with connecting regularly (leaving voicemails, calls) SDRs also have a chance to learn about the leads’ most common problems and objections. Apart from that, they can better understand which buyer persona is the best fit for the prospect. This way, they can become more confident in communicating the upcoming steps in the sales journey.
All that being said, it’s a good idea to create a scalable tactic for customized email writing and different prospect research tactics.
This is a buzzword that you might have heard if you’re following the latest trends in the industry. And so far, things look really promising for this buzzword.
In essence, video prospecting is a highly customized outreach method using a short video format (up to two minutes maximum). Here, the prospect gets to connect with the SDR without the commitment and time of having to schedule a Zoom Call. Not to mention, it’s more personal than an email or a phone call.
Before you start researching the latest video-making tools and special effects creators, relax, your videos don’t need to be CGI masterpieces and your SDR doesn’t have to be sir Anthony Hopkins to nail the role effectively. The only thing the SDR needs to be is comfortable on screen and showing genuine interest in meeting up with the lead in a follow-up conversation.
Set some time aside to practice creating such engaging and short clips, where you introduce yourself, deliver “the goods” quickly, and ask if you could schedule a call.
The more you do it the better and more effective you will get. In time, you will be creating customized videos, which means, your chances of scoring quality leads will be even better.
In the best-case scenario, the SDRs speak with their prospects on the phone, but often, they are left with nothing else but voicemail.
In these cases, you still have to make contact. Even though most people think that leaving voicemails is ineffective, if you leave 25 of them and one prospect calls back you still get more callbacks than if you would have left none.
The problem is, leaving a good voicemail can be hard. Why? Because you only have a short amount of time to entice your prospect who doesn’t even know who you are to call you back.
For leaving better voicemails, some experts advise leaving a bit of value on the sound recording. What this means is, you should tell them that your company/product/service would solve the prospect’s problem, even if they aren’t aware of their problem right now.
Actively Listen and Adapt
These are the characteristics and virtues that can still make human contact more efficient than chatbots.
Let’s see active listening. A chatbot might be able to qualify a lead faster, but as of now, nothing listens to information more effectively and asks questions better than humans. Thus, the convo between the SDR and the prospect can become genuine and helpful instead of forced and robotic.
No matter which industry your company’s in, you should know the cues and phrases that indicate that your lead would be a good fit for your services or product. This is where active listening as a phenomenon comes in. Be adaptable and empathetic. Focus on gathering valuable info that will help push your prospect closer to making a purchase.
Actively listening means being able to adapt to different challenges that may arise during the convo. Learn how to stray away from the prepared checklist and don’t be afraid to improvise and seize the opportunity to dig a little deeper when you can.
Being a confident SDR is of utter importance but a huge ego can often cloud the SDR’s ability to hear and to use constructive and candid feedback.
Good SDRs actively seek out abilities to improve and hone their skills. They seek coaching abilities from the best-performing peers and look for honest and constructive managerial feedback.
As an SDR, you should look for opportunities to fine-tune your skills and to learn more about your prospects and yourself.
Being an SDR is a tough job. Period. SDR’s don’t get the hype and the satisfaction of closing the deals. Most of their working hours are spent on making calls and sending emails. And that can be really exhausting.
All that being said, resilience and positivity are two soft skills that you can’t really learn by reading a book. Staying positive and resilient takes focus and practice. Being flat and empty of enthusiasm is something that your prospect will pick up on and it will make your job even that more difficult.
Honestly, bad calls are inevitable but bouncing back after each one is imperative. No matter whether you made a mistake or your prospect was just simply rude, you can’t let that translate over to the rest of your calls. Don’t take us wrong, it’s okay to feel frustrated at the moment, but don’t let it overpower you.
Being resilient is crucial if you want to keep your head in the game and seize every opportunity. Developing this attitude early on will mean a lot in the long run, so the faster you learn it, the better off you will be.
Each person has their own process, their own way of doing things. The key here is to stay organized. It’s imperative that you are able to manage your time and prioritize your tasks in an efficient way that will enable you to become better at your job.
You can tackle these things in several ways. You can use a calendar, a management tool, or even a to-do list. As long as you understand the importance of maintaining a strict schedule, you are on the right track to truly master every aspect of your profession.
Be eager to learn and be curious. Be excited (or at least ready) to learn about your company’s newest products or services. Be curious to learn about the industry or how you can better organize yourself in your current role. Being curious isn’t important just now, but also as you grow in your career.
A good SDR knows everything about the services and products while also clearly understanding the point of the call they are on at any given moment. Also, they clearly understand the prospect’s buyer persona and the challenges the prospect is facing.
The good thing is that once you’re thirsty for knowledge, you will find an abundance of different sources to quench your thirst. Company resources, online blogs, offline training sessions, meetings with colleagues, industry events… Just make sure to learn and to stay curious.
Be Self Aware
As a good SDR, you will want to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses alike so you can make sure that you offer the best possible experience to the prospect you’re speaking with. When you are aware of your best traits and the things you still need to fine-tune, you can create different tactics for dealing with rejections and bad calls.
Here’s an example. Let’s say, an SDR with less pronounced organization skills might need a physical checklist to keep by their side for every call to ensure they’re making all the steps. Others who are good at building rapport might need a timer to ensure they don’t spend too much time with a single prospect.
Being aware of yourself and the way you work can help sales managers analyze your overall performance, see both your setbacks and wins and help you reflect on where you might need improvement, and will also highlight the things you did best.
On the other hand, self-aware SDRs will ask for feedback. They won’t take constructive (or even negative) criticism personally, but instead, they will only have a deeper understanding of their areas for growth, strengths, and weaknesses.
It’s not just the account manager’s job to build trust and genuine relationships with prospects. Good SDRs know that they are the ones who have to create the foundation for those relationships and that trust.
To become successful at building relationships, you should know how to communicate with a large number of people across several different channels. Whether you are communicating through email, over call, presenting to a potential customer via a virtual meeting, you want to be clear in communicating your ideas and points.
Handling rejection and objection are possibly among the hardest pills to swallow and among the toughest skills to master.
The good news is, as you spend more time as an SDR, handling objections and overcoming them will get easier. You will learn to understand certain behavioral cues and will also have a better understanding of your products and services making it easier to find common ground with your prospects in creative ways.
And when you learn how to implement these subtle techniques and learn to use your experience and knowledge to your advantage, you will also notice that developing trust with your prospects also becomes a lot easier.
Improving Your Skills the Smart Way
It’s safe to say that these 11 skills listed here will help you to improve your SDR performance. They are simple to understand but will all need consistent focus and practice to fully master them.
Apart from all this, you should also be eager to learn, to check out the latest things that might help you get the necessary edge in your job. Never say no to the newest tools, training models, and other strategies as they can all help you get better and more effective.