Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.
This past year has been a crazy ride. I just hit my first anniversary at Terminus and wanted to share what I learned in my one year as a sales development representative (SDR), plus how these lessons helped me get promoted to SDR manager.
Here’s a quick story about how I got to work at Terminus. I graduated from the University of Georgia in May 2015 with a finance and sports management degree. I really didn’t know what to do after I decided I didn’t want to be a sports agent.
After I graduated, Jeff Sheehan told me about the Atlanta Tech Village and I learned about this hot new startup, Terminus. The next day, I cold called Tonni Bennett to win an opportunity to interview with their team. I went through the initial phone screen process and was asked to come do an in-person interview the next day.
Passing the initial in-person interview, I was invited to the final interview. I had a great final interview and I was offered a full-time position as a sales development representative (SDR). I officially started on January 25th, 2016. A few months after learning in the role, I started the SDR Chronicles prompted from a Ralph Barsi article, and now I am the sales development manager at Terminus.
The main reason I’m sharing this story is because there always is an opportunity to succeed.
There always is an opportunity to get the results that you want in life. You have to realize that every single moment you have, you need to maximize that moment with the work that you put in.
Getting the chance to work at your dream company is fantastic; however, what is more important is the work and execution once you get there. What’s more important than anything else is hustling as hard as you can to succeed with the opportunity you’ve been given.
Before I started at Terminus, I didn’t know anything about marketing automation, I had no idea what a campaign strategy was, and I sure as heck I had no idea what account-based marketing really was. I didn’t even know what a CRM was. I’d never had a sales quota, or even been in a sales role…
You see where I’m going with this.
I had absolutely ZERO experience to even be in the position that I was in.
My biggest takeaway is: how much do you really want it? How much do you really want to execute?
Here are five lessons that I learned from my journey as an SDR and how I think they can help anyone succeed.
1. Be Hungry to Learn
I told Lucas Ulloque and Tonni Bennett in my interview, “Yes, there’s going to be people that will have more experience than me, but the one thing that most people will not be able to do on a daily basis that I have is the hunger to learn more.”
As Les Brown says, “You Gotta Be Hungry.”
As soon as I started I held up to that promise. I talked to every single person in the organization to learn what the keys to success were, how to win, how to be a connector and how to do things the right way to see phenomenal results.
I read every single day, whether it was from Sales Hacker, Twitter, or LinkedIn. I would always try new tactics I read and executed on them in my role. Sometimes they didn’t work and sometimes they did, but the process of learning every day became the backbone to my success, as it can be for you when stepping into a new role.
2. Creating an Organized Schedule
This is something I learned about three or four months into my new role. In high school and college, I didn’t have an organized schedule. If I had to study or to go class, I did it because it was what I needed to do. There was no organization of when I needed to study and when I needed to do certain tasks for my classes. When I started my role as SDR, I went with a college schedule mindset, and it did not work out well for me. I realized then that I needed to create time blocks on my calendar to hold me accountable.
Now my schedule looks like this:
As I often say, “If you don’t schedule your life, your life will schedule you.”
For example, think about the sport you played in high school and how practice was at the same time every week. There was no change in the schedule unless an outside factor occurred. So for my basketball practice, I knew every day, I had to be there at 5:30 p.m. However, if practice had changed every day, it would completely ruin my schedule. That’s why it’s important to have a schedule for your process because it will help you get more structured and be more successful.
3. Ability to Adjust
I was the 22nd employee here at Terminus, and now we are almost at 100 Terminators, so I had to have the ability to adjust. From being the 5th SDR on the team to now being the SDR manager, a lot has changed. If I didn’t have the ability to make adjustments, I would have not been able to see success in the long run.
The biggest thing I had to learn was that if something is not working, you can always adjust to find a better solution. When I realized that calls and emails were working for me but I needed to focus a little bit more on LinkedIn and Twitter, I focused more on LinkedIn and Twitter. When Vidyard rolled out a new tool called ViewedIt, I adjusted and added videos as part of my outreach cadence. In addition, I also started adding personalized emails to my approach and made a slight adjustment there as well.
If you are not making appropriate adjustments, then you are ultimately setting yourself up for failure.
For example, look at Blockbuster. They did not adjust. Where is Blockbuster now?
It’s the little adjustments that make a huge difference. Don’t get too caught up in the things that may have worked in the past because they may block you from future greatness.
4. The Power of Persuasion
This is something that I do not believe is talked about enough. A crucial skill that my SDR role helped me increase was my power of persuasion. The skill set to call someone out of the blue to provide them enough value to ask them for an appointment for thirty minutes, which takes their time from them, is hard — but it’s incrementally huge for your entire career.
As I was doing the SDR role, I realized that my persuasion ability started incrementally increasing because I was on the phone every single day. I had no fear making a cold call, overcoming objections, and pushing back because my persuasion power had increased at a fast rate, which allowed me to show the value of Terminus despite a multitude of objections.
You have to consciously increase your skill set of persuasion as you continue to grow in your career because you always want to articulate value with the right wording. I believe that the power of persuasion is best developed in a sales development role, and you will be able to use this ability far beyond the SDR role itself.
5. Phenomenal Work Ethic
I talk about this all the time; I’m the biggest Gary Vaynerchuk fan in the world. He says that the most controllable factor to any type of success is phenomenal work ethic and phenomenal hustle. This is the cornerstone of what sales development has taught me.
A great example, is my colleague Jim Tocci, an account executive here at Terminus who is one of the hardest hustlers I know. When he first started he would come in at 5 in the morning and leave at 9 p.m. My first thought was “Oh my goodness; this is insane!”
However after time, I really appreciated it because it made me come in earlier. I was coming in at 8 a.m. after I saw what Jim was doing. Once you have a taste for a phenomenal work ethic, you never want to stop after seeing the results. In addition, it becomes part of you because I know going to the office that early doesn’t really bother me; it is just a part of the hustle.
The phenomenal work ethic behind the process is huge. The role of SDR is super hard. I’ve said this before; it is simple to call people, email people, do a social touch to net-new prospects to make them into new business. However, it’s NOT easy. It is not easy to wake up every single day, prospect, cold call, get rejected, not getting results, the emotions of the highs and lows, and keeping a steady mindset. That’s NOT an easy task, but if you have the work ethic and if you have the hustle then that just makes it a little bit easier from the difficulty of the role.
I highlighted these five lessons out of the many I have learned in the past year from my sales development role because I know they lead to the results that everyone wants. Never take anything for granted and use your current situation as a story for others to be inspired by.