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7 reasons why I’m glad I started out as an SDR

It may not be the most glamorous job in the sales world, but I loved being an SDR and it was a great way to start my career. Here’s why.

When I told my friends that I’d landed a job at one of the largest financial software companies in the world, they were all thrilled for me. But when I told them I was going to be an SDR, the response was always the same; a blank look and then, ‘What’s an SDR?’ I graduated with a degree in economics, my friends were going into ‘cooler’ jobs such as PR, marketing, law and banking. (OK, not all cool, but at least people knew what they were!)

Today, most B2B companies have SDRs as part of their sales team, but I was an SDR before SDRs were really a thing. However, being an SDR was an excellent move. It enabled me to learn and develop sales skills as well as soft skills. Now, even as the Founder of a company, I still find myself drawing on the things I learned as an SDR. Here are 7 reasons why I’m glad I was an SDR.

1 – Learning the sales process

It was almost like they were speaking a different language! When I started as an SDR, I only had a basic idea of how sales worked. I didn’t know what a campaign really involved, or all the other sales metrics and words I was hearing. I had my Excel list of numbers to call, so I just got on with it.

As time went by I learned how the sales process worked and the part SDRs play in it. I even began to learn the language. Also, starting with only a sheet of paper and a phone made me appreciate the tools and structure we had today.

2 – Learning from successful people

I soon realised in my new company that I was surrounded by sales reps who had been at the company for many years, some for decades! It didn’t bother me though. In fact, I could use it to my advantage. I was on the same journey as these people, but they were further along and had found success.

I made it my mission to talk to everyone in the company, no matter what division they were in – legal, finance, marketing, anything. These people had the keys to success and would show me how to win.

One of the best pieces of advice I received was to immerse myself in the world of finance. Although I studied economics at university, there were still gaps in my knowledge. From then on, every morning I would read the financial news. My skills began to sharpen and the conversations I had with my prospects about their businesses improved.

I think I was unique amongst the SDRs with this approach, but it served me well.

3 - Experimenting

While, of course, you have to follow the sales process as an SDR, you have the ability to try new things in the search for success. It’s fine to experiment, take a risk, as long as you do it quickly, measure and learn from it. I got to try A/B approaches, new campaign tactics, anything to try and raise those metrics.

It was all part of an agile mindset. If things aren’t working, be solution-oriented. You can always find a way to improve your outreach cadence, leverage gatekeepers, personalise etc.

4 – Managing time

As an SDR, you soon find out how important time management is. You need to organise your day well if you are going to achieve everything you need to.

I created structured blocks across the day to hold me accountable, such as:

  • Researching
  • Calling
  • CRM

5 – Work ethic

It’s hard work being an SDR; large numbers of calls to make, being engaging on the phone all day, thinking on your feet.

Being an SDR taught me that hard work pays off. It gave me an inner drive to get results. I don’t know if I would’ve got that in any other job.

6 – Soft skills

As an SDR, I learned a wide range of sales skills. I learned how to cold call, overcome objections and close a call with an action. It wasn’t just sales skills, however. Being an SDR taught me soft skills, such as persuasion and business acumen. Business acumen leads to business conversations.

7 – Resilience

There are not many jobs that teach you resilience like being an SDR. It’s not easy spending significant amounts of valuable time researching a company, mapping out your approach, calling, emailing and more, only to get rejected. There are so many highs, but so many lows too.

The company I was working at had a 12 to 18-month sales cycle, so there was a substantial amount of time between me creating the opportunities and seeing them turn into revenue.

However, these highs and lows give you resilience. This resilience was what set me apart from the other reps sitting next to me. I could get 20 rejections in a day and still pick up the phone at 5.30 pm to try and get a meeting. Not everyone could do that, and it’s something that has stuck with me through my career.

The next step

Thinking back to my SDR days, I learned so much that has helped me get where I am today.

Throwing myself wholeheartedly into my SDR role, with a drive to learn and progress paid off hugely. I started to take on additional responsibilities within the team, as well as enablement and ownership to create and implement new processes across the team. I had AE’s asking me to help them with things beyond the usual hand-off and got to work on some of our largest enterprise accounts.

My journey of learning continued and that drove me to go even harder. The more I did, the more I learned. It was a cycle of development, that I try never to break.

If you were an SDR, or if you’re one now, why not leave a comment to let everyone know what you love about being an SDR.