There's a lot of ways you can describe an SDR's professional life.
It's like a jungle … or a minefield … or a tornado … or running away from a tornado across a minefield in a jungle. I might be overplaying it, but there's no denying it can be a lot to handle — especially if you're just starting.
You're going to be conducting a near-ceaseless stream of cold outreach — often to leads who don't want to hear from you — in the thick of a competitive environment to deliver on some tough benchmarks and expectations.
If you're the new kid on the block, the challenges that come with the role can seem staggering. But don't worry! Many — if not most — salespeople have been in your position before, and a lot of them have some valuable insight to help guide you through your first few months in your new role.
We reached out to some HubSpot reps who nailed their time as SDRs to see what advice they'd offer reps that are just starting out. Here's what they had to say.
How to Crush Your First 100 Days as an SDR
Remain Curious and Intentional to Have Meaningful Conversations.
HubSpot Account Manager, Carl Ferreira, puts it bluntly, "The goal [of a call] is a good, helpful conversation." SDRs need to prioritize meaningful connections with prospects. Being too callous, calculated, and antsy with the people on the other end of your calls just won't work in the long term.
But how can you make sure those connections aren't trivial? What does it take to make something real out of a cold call? Well, according to HubSpot Principal Channel Account Manager, Katie Carlin, curiosity is key.
She says, "My best advice to a new SDR is to stay curious and be intentional. Curiosity is fuel for meaningful conversations with business owners and the most impactful way to learn about your customer. When you go beyond the surface and continue to ask 'why,' 'how,' and 'tell me more,' you will have the clarity you need to have intentional conversations."
You need to want to hear what your customers have to say, and let them know that you do. That might not always be straightforward, but as Emma Greenmann, Business Development Manager for North America at HubSpot, puts it, "Be curious. When in doubt just ask questions and listen."
Don't Make Meetings Your Sole Focus
Approaching your first 100 days as an SDR, solely focused on booking meetings isn't helpful or sustainable. In a similar vein to the point above, you need to avoid being calculated and callous in how you approach customers.
When discussing how SDRs should set goals, Ferreira said this, "Detach from the outcome. Stop going into calls expecting to get a meeting or with the sole goal of getting a meeting. No meeting booked is only a failure if that is the only outcome you are looking for."
He listed some better outcomes than meetings booked SDRs should prioritize, including:
- Referrals — He suggests reps should "learn who the right person to talk to is, and see if they can be put in touch."
- Timing — He says, "Only a very small percentage of your territory is in an active buying cycle and looking for your product. That said, most of the companies you talk to will be looking to buy a product like yours in the next 12 months, so instead of pushing for a meeting, try to gather some timeline information."
- Info gathering — He says, "They don't want to meet? Cool! What are they focused on this quarter and next? Ask permission to send them valuable information. Get their permission to nurture them. When the time is right they will think of you."
You're bound to have a meetings quota for the month. That's a fact or SDR life, but don't get too fixated on it. You still need to play the long game — that's what Ferreira says "gets you to the President's Club."
Be Persistent and Tenacious
Being an SDR takes plenty of mettle, a whole lot of persistence, and the ability to consistently stomach rejection. If you want to crush your first 100 days, you have to be able to take any hiccups in stride, quickly pick yourself up when you hit the ground, train yourself to consistently regain composure, and always be prepared to move onto the next call.
That's the mentality Greenman says you should bring to the job. As she puts it, "[You need to] focus on failing fast. Be the first person to pick up the phone when you hit the floor, the first person to stumble through the first 30 seconds of the call, and the first person to be hung up on. The more at-bats you give yourself, the more you will learn and the faster you'll find success."
SDR life moves fast, and you have to be prepared to grind and keep pace with it, or as Carlin says, "Work like it's the end of the month at the beginning of the month."
Put One Foot in Front of the Other Until You Catch A Rhythm
Your first 100 days as an SDR are just that — your first 100 days. You can't be expected to immediately master every aspect of the job. Don't take on everything at once, spread yourself too thin, and burn out when trying to learn the tricks of the trade.
As Greenmann puts it, "Don't try to boil the ocean. There are going to be a thousand things to learn and new skills to develop. If you try to tackle every skill at once you will not move the needle on any of them. Identify the one or two things that are going to make the biggest impact on setting up a strong foundation and focus there. Master those two skills and then tackle another two."
Finding a groove is key, and that takes some patience and repetition. As Sam Hamann, HubSpot Inbound Growth Specialist, frames it, "Start with a process. You'll tweak it as you go along, but stay true to a daily routine of doing a certain amount of outreach — that will help you keep a full pipeline! Too many reps get caught up in too much to do that they forget to do the basics!"
SDR life isn't easy, but it's definitely manageable. If there's anything that underlies all the advice we got from our experts, it's this — remain composed and think of the big picture. Be mindful of what your actions and effort can do for you long term. That kind of mindset will help you crush your 100 days as an SDR and beyond.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in September 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.