Zakk Williams is Head of Partnerships at Better Proposals, an online platform that allows customers to easily build, send, and track beautiful web-based sales documents. He is an award-winning graphic designer, a guest speaker in digital marketing and sales strategy, and has over 15 years’ experience working in digital media and brand development.
Being a leader is not just a title. It’s a responsibility.
A great salesperson is like a Swiss Army Knife. They need an array of tools (confidence, persistence, empathy, and the ability to listen and problem solve) but they only function effectively when those “tools” are well maintained.
A leader provides. A leader sets goals. They hold themselves accountable and encourage their team to do the same. And in doing so, they build a positive and motivating work environment and a culture of collaboration, innovation, and support.
When it comes to building a superstar SDR Team, 4 of my most valuable lessons are:
1. Good training creates repeatable results
Many will be familiar with the quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” But in my experience, systematic training and repetition creates repeatable success, which is our goal.
Ensure your training program is consistent and includes product knowledge, buyer personas, outreach and follow-up processes, prospecting and a consistent approach to tracking, and your SDRs will feel competent to deal with most situations and deliver results.
2. Within that training, encourage listening, not selling
Studies have long shown that allowing someone to talk about themselves stimulates the brain’s pleasure response, building trust and improving the perception of the listener.
Train your team to let your client talk.
Open-ended questions will reveal a client’s situation, problems, implications, and needs (SPIN) and allow your SDR to quickly qualify their suitability and empathetically position your business as the self-defined solution.
3. Check in, don’t check up
Most SDR situations necessitate monthly sales quotas, but this can often be overwhelming for sales reps and few people enjoy micromanagement.
Be a true mentor to your SDRs. Let them learn and grow from your experience, give constructive feedback, reward all wins (big and small), and illustrate the trajectory of success. Many sales professionals are just as motivated by status as they are financial compensation. And if you’ve done your job as a leader well, they won’t be an SDR for long.
4. Encourage healthy competition
SDRs, like any sales professionals, tend to be driven by ego, and are competitive by nature.
With the benefits of gamification being well-documented, creating light-hearted competition that aligns with performance goals (whether it’s for one day or a whole month) can often break the monotony of endless emails and calls and keep SDR’s driving towards success.
Meg is the Head of Sales Development at Ebsta. She works alongside leadership to strategize and formalize sales development processes across EMEA and the US. Her SDR team is responsible for sourcing 2/3 of AE pipeline.
The most important lesson I’ve learned is that no one cares what you do. Prospects only care about what you will cause their company to do when partnered together.
For example, there’s no point starting a cold call with “I work in the predictable revenue industry” – that’s all about me.
But to start with “I help you close deals faster by taking the guesswork out of sales”… Well suddenly it’s a more interesting conversation!
And what is repeated back to you by your prospect is your email subject lines, your meeting titles, your follow-up calls only works to reinforce what you can do for them each time you speak!
Alex is an Account Executive at Reply. She acts as a sales engagement advisor for the EMEA region. She is currently building her own team of AEs and handling most aspects of the sales process — from discovery and product demos to closing.
First, I have to say that I’m a newbie Sales Leader, only transitioning to the role. And the fact that we’re working remotely definitely makes my experience less ordinary. Yet, studying psychology definitely helped a lot!
That said, I believe that my first priority as a leader is to create a friendly atmosphere within the team to give its members a sense of belonging and support. That is why we have regular team calls and dedicate some time to discussing personal issues.
The same goes for coaching and onboarding, which is impossible to do in person when working remotely. To address this challenge, we’ve created an extensive library of educational materials to provide the required resources on-demand whenever the SDRs need them to address current challenges or for self-development.
Speaking of personal development, we do pay attention to it regularly. For example, we hold one-on-one calls every week where we analyze the performance of the rep during the week as well as set new goals and work out a strategy to achieve these goals. We make these goals attainable and come up with practical skills or actions that can be taken to achieve them.
Accountability is also crucial for SDR management in a remote team. It’s me who’s accountable for my team’s performance first of all, and that’s the only way I can demand accountability from the team. However, we do have a pretty flexible workflow. As a team, we develop a workflow or template, put it to work, and check a week later to analyze its performance. Then we decide how/whether to move forward with it, and adjust it if needed.
The war in Ukraine, where most of my teammates are located, necessitates its own adjustments. Just a few days ago, during a major missile attack on multiple cities, we had to reschedule our regular call because some of us had no electricity while others were taking shelter away from their homes. This is where that flexibility and empathy a leader should possess comes in really handy.