3 Qualities of the Most Successful SDRs

GUEST: Jeremey Donovan, SVP of Sales Strategy at Salesloft


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One of the top challenges executives cite when asked what’s getting in the way of them hitting their growth goals is finding and feeding the top of the funnel.

But how do we do effective prospecting in a manner that is repeatable, scalable, and personalized?

It starts with the attributes your SDRs possess.

We interviewed Jeremey Donovan, SVP of Sales Strategy at SalesLoft, about how to overcome some of the biggest prospecting challenges in your business.

Here’s what we learned.

The Biggest Challenges That B2B Sales Teams Face

A strategy is people, process, and technology.

Interestingly, even though Jeremey’s company sells a technology solution, he says that people rarely have a technology problem. There’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to access to technology.

Leaders think that if they buy the technology, they will solve the problem,” Jeremey said. “That is very much the least of it.

Jeremey Donovan
SVP of Sales Strategy, Salesloft

More often, they have people and process problems.

On the process side, companies tend to fail to have well-defined processes all the way through the funnel.

On the people side, you can try every configuration of comp structures, cadence structure, etc., but in the end, success in sales comes down to activity.

It’s hard to admit, since most people don’t want to be managed this way, but in order to be successful in prospecting you have to hit a minimum activity level day after day.

3 Qualities of the Most Successful SDRs

The most successful SDRs have three qualities:

1) Creativity

The things that work in prospecting today will stop working.

There was a time when putting the person’s first name in the subject line was effective. Now, it actually decreases responses by about 12%.

You’ve got to constantly be correcting and A/B testing.

For example, even as the triumphant return of direct mail flattens out, you can send something creative. If you send a coconut in the mail, you’re going to get noticed.

The point is, don’t rely on what’s worked before.

2) Curiosity

The best SDRs genuinely want to find people with problems they can help. They’re not afraid to do the work; they understand they have to earn the right for that person’s time.

Being curious is about being able to engage prospects effectively, to listen to their true needs. But there’s another reason why curiosity is so important.

The SDR role might be the hardest, most soul-sucking job on the planet. You’re calling 50-70 times and sending a million emails a day. You’ve got to hustle, and if you get one meeting a day that’s your quota. If you get two, the beams of light from the clouds in the sky come down.

The ones who make it are curious.

Instead of saying, “Is this a good time to call?” they say, “Is this a bad time to call?”

They test something every day and get fulfillment from that learning experience. They are immensely curious about how humans react to different approaches.

3) Grit

Grit is perseverance combined with passion

Jeremey Donovan
SVP of Sales Strategy, Salesloft

You can make all the changes to your cadence and tech stack that you want, but the thing that matters in prospecting is activity. You’ve got to have the perseverance to grind.

At SalesLoft, as soon as someone sources a certain amount of opportunities, they are eligible for promotion. Because the company’s growing so fast, this basically means they get promoted no matter what.

Most people hit the threshold in 18 months, but one particular person hit it in 11-12 months. He was the fastest ever to hit it.

How did he do it? He’s got grit coming out of his ears.

Stick It Out

If you don’t succeed as an SDR where you’re at, you basically have two options:

  1. You can go somewhere else and put in your equivalent of “18 months” all over again.
  2. You can change jobs completely out of sales.

People who lead SDRs have an obligation to help them build successful habits. Otherwise, their options are poor.

And for you SDRs out there, my advice is if you find the right organization, stick with it.

This post is based on a podcast interview with Jeremey Donovan from SalesLoft.To hear this episode, and many more like it, subscribe to the B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

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