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Game, Set and Match for SDRs!

Wimbledon is around the corner, we've just had Roland Garros and The Queens Club Tennis tournament is happening this week. Tennis is season is here!

Some stats for you:

  • A singles player makes 1000+ serves, during a 2 week tournament. That's roughly 217 serves per match with 8-9 serves per game (both 1st & 2nd). This is for a player who goes on to win the whole tournament.
  • 3-6 miles of running per match, depending on the number of sets. It takes 6 matches to reach the final at Wimbledon. The 7th is the final. So running for between 21 to 42 miles (if 5 sets played every single match).
  • Per Match, winning players have to play potentially 30 games to win 16 of them (Best of 3 sets: 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 = 16) or 50 games played to win 26 games (Best of 5 sets: 6-4, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 = 26 games won to win the match).
  • Wining Wimbledon - Women's Singles players: could play at up to 210 games, winning 112. Men's Singles players: could play at least 350 games, winning 182.
  • The Tennis court is 78ft by 34ft but the overall playing surface can be as much as 132ft by 60ft. So to cover all those miles per game, that’s a lot of intense, high velocity short sprints & side to side movement!

The Tennis serve for me holds the most fascination and mystery. It's a complex set of movements; rotation, swing, throw, jump and power. The best make it look so smooth. I have noticed these basic things, since I've started playing tennis again 1 year ago:

  1. They never look at the court. Once they start the serve motion all the focus is on the ball. They don't need to look where to aim, they know.
  2. They throw the ball at least 4-6ft above the height of the tennis player. The tennis ball is sometimes in the air for a full 3 seconds! That's quite some time.
  3. Visible moment of relaxation before every single serve. They breathe, relax shoulders, ungrip the hand slightly or a combination. They don't rush into it. 
  4. They keep going. Even if they lose a hard fought point or the serve isn’t working or they've slipped on the grass. They keep going. You can sometimes see the mental struggles, as they re-group. They can’t just walk off. They need to finish the match. ps. from 1140 matches, 457 were won when the Winner had lost the first set!

If you are wondering how I’m going to apply this to SDRs, read-on! Plus don't miss the bit about playing tennis with a frying pan 

  1. Great players have defined, dedicated time for practice, new skills, fitness & match play. 
    • Verbally practice your pitches everyday; get confident with the words and your tone of voice, so do this out loud.
    • Take time to learn & apply new skills. Training courses, live call feedback, workshops, SDR meet-ups, all make a difference. It's very important to make sure you are being taught either new techniques or getting refreshers on the essential steps that lead to mastery. So ask and make sure there is time & money dedicated to helping you be the best.
    • Fitness is equivalent to research & preparation about your prospects. I am a huge fan of the 3x3 method. It's quick, efficient and thorough. Never get on a call unprepared.
    • Lastly dedicate blocked time for outreach. Ideally block a good 2 hours and focus on a list, based on one persona or one vertical etc. Being specific like this for a dedicated time makes a huge difference to your focus and how your conversations will flow. 
  2. The serve is the most important shot, as is your opening sentence. It introduces you and your company. So practice and test your opening sentences regularly & often. What prospects hear or read first, will determine how the rest of the call goes. 
  3. Give yourself time - don’t rush the call. All tennis players relax visibly before they serve. Do the same. All tennis players use moments between shots to get back to the centre ground, to anticipate the next shot better. Do the same. Understand that the call will flow between you & the prospect. Centre yourself every time by focusing on understanding their needs better.
  4. There is a routine and a pattern to a tennis game, as there is with everything an SDR does. So use it. If it’s going well - build on the momentum of the previous call. If it isn’t going well - refresh, recharge & refocus for the next call. Stick to the routine even if you are having a bad day. You can’t walk off the court. Every game in every match makes you better. 
  5. Even under pressure they play relaxed, powerful tennis. In the same way, while under pressure, aim to have relaxed, purposeful conversations.

Ok, that’s it for the tennis analogy  Do let me know what you think. And go and watch some tennis! Watch the best tennis players in world at their day jobs  #SerenaSDRs #FedererSDRs ps. You can even play tennis with a frying pan! Watch the video  It’s all about technique (another blog on that soon!).