In this Sales Secrets episode, you’ll learn how the right sales development program can produce the three skills a sales development representative must possess to succeed.
In this article:
- Sales Development Rep Skill #1: Conversation Starter
- Sales Development Rep Skill #2: Lead Management
- Sales Development Rep Skill #3: Warm Transfer
- Final Advice
The Sales Development Program for Successful SDRs
Tyler Wicks is the North American Sales Enablement Instructor of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). He’s been a part of the organization for three years. He started out as an inside sales representative for new business before moving into sales management.
Realizing he wanted to make a larger impact on the culture and the people within his organization, he assumed the role of Sales Enablement Instructor.
Now, Wicks instructs HPE’s inside sellers and onboards their field sales teams and solutions architects. HPE believes SDRs have an important role to play, so they’ve been building up their numbers.
Currently, they have around 60 SDRs, and their end goal is to increase their number to between 80 and 100.
Sales Development Rep Skill #1: Conversation Starter
The first skill a sales development representative has to have to win is the ability to start conversations.
Wicks shared that many of their SDRs are in the early stage of their careers. They either had one job prior, or their first job is being an SDR for Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Being new to the industry, they’re prone to become overwhelmed with the available technology. They find themselves asking, “How can I have a good conversation if I don’t know all about this technology?”
That’s why Wicks often reminds them that the first thing they need to do is to pick up the phone and just jump right into it.
As an SDR, you need to start somewhere. Moreover, selling is about relationships.
You need to catch your prospect’s attention early on in the conversation. You also need to quickly find a common denominator with the person you’re speaking to.
A common denominator is a very relevant topic you and your prospect can both relate to. It may have nothing to do with your business, but it can help you establish a relationship with someone new.
Sales Development Program: How to Start a Conversation
When it comes to starting conversations, Wicks shared with us the acronym he uses — A.C.T. This stands for authenticity, connection, and topic, which he teaches his sales development program trainees to apply.
SDRs should genuinely want to find mutual ground with their prospects. They have to understand the people they’re talking to, so they can figure out how they fit within their organization.
That genuine rapport-building eventually leads to something more meaningful, no matter how long it takes.
To get to know prospects better, SDRs should be willing to lend a listening ear. One conversation starter that Wicks shared was:
“I’ve got a basic understanding of your organization, but I’d love to hear it from your perspective.
I also have a fair idea of what you do as a [prospect’s position]. Would you please help me understand what your role means to you and how you influence your organization?”
When you start your conversation with these types of questions, you’ll get your prospect talking about themselves. They’ll also share with you what kind of involvement they have in their organization.
Through that, you can begin developing common ground with them.
Respect Your Prospect’s Time
Wicks is a big believer in asking a prospect first if you caught them at a good time. Yet, here’s what we know to be true: it’s never a good time.
Sometimes, people immediately agree to talk to you. Other times, they reluctantly agree.
Some people find excuses to not talk to you, or even outright say, “Now is not a good time.”
As an SDR, you’d want to set the tone upfront that you respect your prospect’s time. If you didn’t catch them at a good time, don’t force it.
Yet there’s a flip side to that, Wicks said. You also have to be aggressive.
Those who undergo training in his sales development program know that getting rejected is their first opportunity to set an appointment.
Wicks shared this response you can use: “I totally understand. When would be the next best time for me to get in touch with you?”
Then you can guide them to that next best time. Follow up your response with, “I’ve got an opening tomorrow. Would tomorrow work for you? Maybe I can catch you early in the morning or in the afternoon?”
Wicks advised not to leave the appointment setting up to your prospect. If you do, it may take you a long time to get ahold of them, or you may never even have the chance.
Sales Development Rep Skill #2: Lead Management
The second skill that successful SDRs have is the ability to manage leads well.
One of the pain points of SDRs is the quality of leads they receive. Sometimes, they feel like the leads are junk, and they don’t have the right contacts.
There are different tools available for you to get the right contacts. You could be using helpful tools like DiscoverOrg, Zoom Info, and Hoovers in your business.
As Wicks said, if you know your sales organization is paying good money for these tools, quit griping about bad-quality leads.
Even if not all the information is accurate, you’re still getting qualified leads. That’s why Wicks advises SDRs to take the initiative to find the right contact within the account.
Leverage one of your tools and exhaust the lead.
As a sales leader, Wicks shared that closed out leads due to bad contact information bother him. What’s more, the SDR touched the lead only once and didn’t make an effort to exhaust it.
He encourages SDRs to dig deeper into the leads to find the right information and exhaust them. This typically means making eight to eleven touches on a single lead.
Sales Development Program: Ways How to Exhaust Your Leads
As Wicks shared with us, they found that eight to eleven touches are their optimal numbers when it comes to exhausting leads. After that, they believe it’s time to close out the lead and tell Marketing that they’ve already tried all options but didn’t get any traction.
Wicks admitted he hadn’t decided yet on the optimal order of communication. He tells his reps to switch it up between phone calls and emails but to always indicate their next step.
For instance, the SDR calls someone first. In the voicemail they leave, they tell the prospect they’ll follow up with an email.
If they email someone first, they’ll mention within the email that they’ll follow up with a phone call.
Wicks shared that they manage a large portion of their enterprise large accounts via email, but he’ll still instruct their enterprise reps to utilize phone calls.
As he said, they can’t just be “transactional and reactive” to the business. They need to get in touch with the people they’re dealing with as it creates a more personal touch.
Another tip that Wicks shared is to ask the prospect what their preferred method of communication is. It’s a big deal when you get someone to agree to text, call, or email you.
Sales Development Rep Skill #3: Warm Transfer
The third skill is being able to execute a warm transfer. Wicks believes that the disconnection happens when it’s time for the SDR to pass the lead along to the Account Manager.
SDRs need to create an appropriate talk track instead of dryly passing the lead to the next person in the sales process.
There has to be a warm introduction. The SDR should set the tone, and the second call should not be a complete rehash of what happened during the first call.
Sales Development Program: How to Execute a Warm Transfer
Wicks said the key is to have the SDR get on the line to make warm introductions. This eliminates a lot of confusion for the customer.
SDRs are the front-liners who initially engage with the customer. If they fail to mention they’re going to introduce the customer to an Account Representative, odds are, the customer forgets the name and gets confused.
The handoff will be way more effective if the SDR makes the warm introductions. They shouldn’t expect the next person in the process to establish a connection with the customer immediately.
If there’s a common ground between everyone, utilize that. You can start the warm introduction with something personalized:
“[Account Manager’s name] and I were on the phone the other day. Would you believe he’s also a die-hard Yankees fan like you and me?”
That kind of introduction gives you an opening to connect and involve the next person in the sales process.
Wicks firmly believes that everything starts with initiating a conversation. It’s awkward, and you get anxious, but you need to start building your confidence somewhere.
Failing at the beginning is normal, and if you do, make sure to fail forward.
Wicks advised to document and listen to your phone calls as well as your peers’. Then, figure out how you can better streamline and articulate your message because you only have a short window to do it.
Like other industries, sales development continuously changes to meet different needs. If you want to become an SDR who is able to roll with the punches, learn from the sales development program, Tyler Wicks shared.
Acquire the top three skills that successful sales reps possess. Make sure to practice them with every chance you get, so you can become an expert.
Which of the three skills are you good at, and which do you need to improve on? Share them with us in the comments section below.