Finding quality prospects is hard. Sure, there may be plenty of ‘fish’ in the ocean, but if they’re not the fish that you are looking for, are they really any good? That is where Sales Development Representatives (SDR) come in.
A sales development rep is a part of an inside sales team who focuses on outbound prospecting, moving leads through the sales funnel, and above all making sure that leads are the sort of leads that add value and profit to your business. For your SDR to do all these, they will need to be skilled and well-trained. But if you want your SDR to go beyond simply hitting targets, you will need to cultivate these important traits to complement their already formidable skills.
Coachability and willingness to learn
You could have a skilled and experienced sales development rep in your team, but if he or she is unwilling to learn, that may end up holding you back. As early as the hiring process, you want to find someone who is willing to be coached, someone who is willing to accept feedback and do something about it. A coachable SDR will proactively study your products and services, ask a lot of questions, and take the necessary steps to hone and develop their skills. These are people who are willing to sit down with you and learn together.
Sitting down for a coaching session, sending out emails and making calls, getting turned down — life for a sales development rep sure is tough. On top of all these, SDRs need to stay positive and that is not a skill they — or you — will learn in books. See, resilience takes practice and a realization that things do not always work out the way we want to. Even the best of us have to contend with bad days (yes, plural) where everything that could go wrong goes wrong, so, you want someone who knows how to bounce back. Sometimes, your SDR may need your help doing this. We find that turning coaching sessions into open conversations instead of a lecture or a run through of what they did wrong is a helpful way to cultivate positivity and resilience in our team.
Rapport – building
Sales development representatives focus on nurturing quality leads over closing deals. As such, building rapport with prospects is crucial. Instant connection is a myth. If you want your prospect to go further, you have to win them over first and this takes time. The best way to ease prospects is to find common ground or shared similarities that you can talk about before the initial contact. Similarities, along with an understanding of what your prospects are going through, help decrease initial uncertainties and open up opportunities for a more welcoming conversation.
Empathy and mindfulness
Yes, you have your targets and business goals, but it should not just be about you and your business; it should also be about your prospects, too.
Empathy and mindfulness are at the heart of selling. Sales development reps need to be attuned to what their prospects are telling them. When prospects object or tell us about a problem they are dealing with, there are so many other things that are left unsaid. These unspoken stories are just as important as what they are actually articulating. By being empathic and mindful, you can show prospects that you genuinely care and more importantly, you are willing to help them solve whatever business problems they are dealing with.
Sticking to the script and standard operating procedures will produce predictable results. If only prospects followed scripts and cared about SOPs.
While there is nothing wrong with following procedure, sometimes, sales development reps will need to improvise and be more creative in how they approach prospects and guide them through the funnel.
One way to exercise creativity is by personalising interactions with prospects. Try to find something unique in their situation and an unconventional angle from which you can approach or solve their problem. You can also note your ideas on problem-solving, generating sales and whatever else you are working on. Your ideas — no matter how outrageous or outlandish they may seem — are really options waiting to be explored and nourished until they become creative solutions for the right prospect.
Sales development representatives equipped with the right skills and training can already do a lot in terms of helping you achieve your business targets but reps with the traits and attitudes listed above can do so much more than just meeting goals.