Sales development representatives (SDRs) are the backbone of any revenue organization. They are the first point of contact a buyer has with your company, and play a pivotal role in guiding prospects toward the sale.
Despite their importance to the sales process, the SDR role is often thought of as a junior position, requiring less experience than roles like account executive. In reality, SDRs play an integral part in the outbound sales funnel and the role requires a distinct skill set.
SDRs are experts at cutting through the noise
Today’s buyers are inundated with information. With more content and competitors than ever before, it’s easy for your outbound sales message to be lost in the noise. Prospects receive hundreds of emails every day, but a great SDR knows how to stand out and get their attention. The rest of the sales process is contingent on that initial outreach.
A personalized approach to prospecting
The days of dials for dollars are over. It’s no longer about the number of emails sent or calls made, but the quality of those conversations. SDRs are responsible for finding right-fit prospects, crafting relevant messages, and educating prospects on the solution. All of this requires research and training.
While tools like playbooks can be helpful, much of an SDR’s success relies on their preparation and ability to improvise. Building these skills takes time and dedication.
SDRs as subject matter experts
With so much information available online, many prospects prefer to do their own research. This means that by the time they book a meeting or a demo, they are further along in their buyer’s journey and already have a solution in mind.
At this stage, buyers want to engage with a real person, someone who is knowledgeable not only about the product but also the industry, use cases, and overall market. For an SDR to be successful they need to understand the full context around the prospect’s problem, which involves no small amount of time and research.
“Sales reps must be experts, not salespeople,” says Chris Smith, co-founder of Curaytor and the author of The Conversion Code. “When a consumer is close to buying the first time you speak to them, it changes everything about the interaction.”
Top-performing SDRs become subject matter experts. They follow the industry closely, know their competition inside and out, and are up to date on the newest trends and technology.
Understanding the customer
Perhaps more so than any other outbound sales role, SDRs need to understand the priorities of their prospect. By the time a buyer is handed off to an account executive, for example, they are mostly sold on the solution. But until they get to that point, it’s the SDR who is responsible for keeping them in the funnel.
This includes everything from cold outreach, to educating the prospect, and providing the information they need to move forward. SDRs must provide value at every touchpoint to keep the prospect engaged.
In practice, this means researching, listening to call recordings, and consuming content from prospects. A major part of the SDR role is understanding why prospects buy the solution and leveraging that information to move them through the funnel.
The skillset of a successful SDR
As the buying process has evolved, so has the skill set of a successful SDR. Not only do SDRs need to have an in-depth understanding of their prospects, but they also need to spend time refining their own sales skills. Successful SDRs take note of what works and what doesn’t, stay on top of trends in the industry, and implement new techniques as needed.
For junior SDRs looking to grow their skill set, one of the best ways is to spend time with other salespeople and learn about their processes. If you need help training your outbound sales team, book a call with us to learn more about our coaching services.
Finally, self-improvement is a critical part of the SDR role. The most successful SDRs are constantly striving to learn and improve whether through books, podcasts, or following thought leaders online.
SDRs are pivotal to outbound sales success
The SDR role involves much more than just booking meetings. As the buying process becomes more complex, SDRs are the ones who lead prospects through that journey. The role requires a unique skillset of flexibility, empathy, and a willingness to learn.
SDRs are a critical part of the sales funnel and they should be given the recognition they deserve.
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