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10 things every new SDR must do

December 19, 2019

B2B sales is a tough profession, especially for new starters working on the frontline as SDRs.

They play a key role in the B2B lead generation efforts of their company. Typically, SDRs are on the phone for the majority of the day, which can get repetitive. They also face a great deal of rejection, more than they face success.

As a new SDR, what can you do to make your job easier and more successful? We sat down with Nigel Dunand, Director at Sandler Training, one of the world’s leading sales training and leadership development companies, to find out.

Nigel has more than 30 years’ experience in coaching high-performance B2B sales professionals. We asked him for his top 10 things every SDR must do when they start a new job. His advice will help any new sales rep develop the skills and confidence to become a target-smashing superstar!

1 – Build a predictable sales process

When you start as a new SDR, you’ll be given targets (KPIs) you need to achieve. It may be daunting at first, but when you work backwards, breaking it down into manageable chunks, it becomes more straightforward. 

“Ask yourself what success looks like,” Nigel told us. “If you have to secure 40 meetings in a month, how many cold calls do you have to make to book those meetings? How much time do you have to spend on LinkedIn or anywhere else looking for prospects? How many sales emails do you need to send per day to hit those numbers?”

“When you take this scientific and systematic approach, you create a predictable process for yourself. You take your targets, then figure out how much outbound activity is required to achieve them.”

“Talk about your predictable process with your manager, so your goals are aligned with the goals of the broader organisation.”

2 – Become a customer expert

Being a customer expert is more important than being a product expert (although that is important too!). It’s only once you know your customers that you can:

  • Qualify successfully
  • Build rapport
  • Establish trust – trust is vital; remember that people only buy from people they trust

An effective way to become a customer expert is to know your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) inside out. Your company should have an ICP in place - but if not, you can help create one!

Nigel recommends that you be proactive about this:

“Ask your Customer Success team if they can introduce you to your happiest or longest-serving customers. Set up interviews where you ask them why they bought your product and what problems it solves for them.” 

“You can also listen to your team’s most successful cold calls. Study the type of language your prospects use. Use their language in your own cold calls. Talking the way your customers talk is a great way to build trust.”

3 – Create your own sales playbook

When you start as a new SDR, chances are your company will have its own sales strategy playbook. You can learn a lot from your sales playbook, but it’s even more illuminating when you create your own.

Once you have your predictable process in place and it’s running like clockwork, write that process down. Make your playbook entirely individual to you and how you approach the process of selling. Refer to it every day as you sell.

Nigel’s top tip:

“Keep updating your playbook as you learn new sales skills. Make it your personal sales bible!”

4 – Learn from your colleagues

For a new SDR, the best resources to learn from are in your own team. They are also the easiest to find. Your colleagues have been selling for longer than you; they have the experience and expertise. Leverage that knowledge to your own advantage. 

When you start, think about the gaps in your knowledge. Ask yourself what you need to learn. Then, find out who has that knowledge and talk to them.

For example, if you need product knowledge, go to your product team! If you need help with messaging, perhaps the marketers in your company can help you? Nigel summarises this tactic for us:

“The key thing to remember here is to use the people around you to make selling easier and more effective.”

5 – Manage every second of your day

One of the biggest challenges for a new SDR is managing time, especially if you are new to the world of work. It’s easy to get immersed in cold calling and neglect to do your admin, and vice versa.

“The best way to counteract this is to use your Outlook calendar obsessively,” Nigel says. “Log everything on your calendar: when you do admin, when you make cold calls, even when you go for lunch! Block out every second of your day. Doing this will help you keep organised and stay on top of your responsibilities.”

Once you’ve planned out your diary, make sure you follow it! Only change your schedule if it’s essential. When you first start out as an SDR, you need to get a regular workflow going.

Are you after more selling tips? Then check out our recent sales blog, filled with advice from Cognism’s top SDRs! Click the image below.

Top tips from top-performing sales reps V1 FINAL-02

6 – Create your own performance reports

The most successful SDRs are self-reflective. They analyse their own performance and look for ways to improve. As a new SDR, you need to be like this too.

“Every week, take some time to look at your performance,” Nigel suggests. “Analyse your output using the KPIs you set yourself (see point 1), as well as the KPIs your manager gave you. How are you measuring up? What’s working well for you? What isn’t? What were your big wins and what were your big failures?”

Going through this process will produce takeaways you can use to improve your performance.

7 – Schedule weekly meetings with your manager

If you’ve started as a new sales rep and your manager hasn’t arranged weekly meetings with you, you need to take the initiative. Suggest to your manager that you sit down weekly. It’s likely that they will appreciate your enthusiasm and diligence.

Nigel explains how these meetings can work, and how they can help you:

“Come to the meetings with your predictable sales process (see point 1) and your personal performance reports (see point 6). They will provide you and your manager with lots to discuss. It shows that even at the start of your career, you’re taking accountability for your performance.”

8 – Always ask questions

The best way to learn anything, but especially in sales, is to ask questions. Some people are reluctant to put their hand up and ask because they fear they will come across as under-prepared. Never be afraid to ask about anything in your role if you’re unsure.

Nigel had plenty to say on this subject:

“Sales is a fast-moving job and things can change on the ground very quickly. The best salespeople always keep up-to-date with everything around their product, business and industry. Try to achieve that level of knowledge, but until you do, ask!”

9 – Find a peer group

The best way to learn and grow as a salesperson is to find a support network you can rely on. It doesn’t have to be just people in your team or your company; in fact, external people can be better as they have a different perspective. You can learn new ways of doing things that have worked at other companies.

Reach out to SDRs at other organisations, grow your network and communicate regularly with them.

Nigel suggests an excellent place to start:

“LinkedIn! Join relevant LinkedIn groups; there are several out there for sales reps and people in the industry. LinkedIn is such a vast hub of knowledge. Build up your online presence, post often and ask people for advice whenever you need it.”

10 – Find a mentor

Nigel’s last point is by far the most important. Find a mentor. Don’t delay! Every great salesperson has had a great mentor. You need to find your own. Here’s Nigel’s advice:

“A mentor is someone who has been on the path that you’re on and knows the way forward. If your company has a mentor and mentee scheme, that’s great. Make use of it. If not, just like with manager meetings, take the initiative. Suggest that your company creates one. If that doesn’t work, ask a senior colleague if they would be willing to mentor you, or look for one externally.”

“When you find your mentor, set up regular weekly meetings. Learn everything you can from them and always, always ask questions!”

Training opportunities from Sandler

Thanks to Nigel for his thoughts on this subject. If you’re serious about building a high-performing sales team or becoming a high-performing sales rep, Sandler Training runs 2 regular executive briefings:

Click the Cognism box on the event landing page to waive the usual fee.

If you can't make these events, then check out SELL - Sandler E-Learning Library. It’s a free online sales training resource, comprised of blogs, video, audio, sales tools and more.

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