Before moving into a content-driven role, I spent several years as a Televerde Sales Development Representative (SDR). At that time, I never would’ve guessed that my role as an SDR was actually a crash-course in marketing.
Now that I’ve transitioned into the role of content specialist, I find myself applying much of what I learned during my time working the phones. This path is a bit unconventional, as crossover between sales and marketing is not as common as you’d think.
Since not all marketers start out in sales, I’m sharing a few insights I’ve picked up along the way.
Know your buyer
Good time management skills are a must-have for great SDRs. With only 480 minutes in every workday, I capitalized on each of them by making certain I was laser focused on the right people. The same is true for marketing and translates into knowing your buyer personas inside and out.
SDRs reap the rewards of the time marketing takes to define buyer personas. Prospects don’t respond well, if at all, to messaging that doesn’t deliver personalized value to them.
Case studies are a perfect example – they don’t just want to see any company that used your solution and saw results; they want an example of a company like them. Knowing your buyer also means thinking about how they like to be communicated with. 51% of B2B buyers rely more on content during the research process than they did only year ago, with 75% claiming the content of the vendor they selected had a significant impact on their decision. In short, find out what content delivered at the right time will help you get their attention.
As an SDR, if someone is in a meeting or otherwise busy, you don’t try to hook them into a demo right then and there; you follow up and then move on if there’s no interest.
After making over 100 calls a day for a few months, I quickly learned that it wasn’t all about my personal agenda – once I began empathizing with my prospect, and putting myself in their shoes, my perspective shifted, and so did the amount of leads I was delivering.
Marketing is very similar, as in you don’t want to be sending case studies and asking for the close to someone who just signed up for your newsletter, for example. When you take that route with a person, it signals that you didn’t do your research on the back-end to understand where they’re at in the buyer’s journey. This also filters into messaging, where it’s critical provide value instead of just screaming your message to the marketplace. As an SDR, it literally pays to care pain-points of your prospects. The same goes for marketers.
Continuously work toward sales & marketing alignment
When it comes to sales and marketing alignment, it’s about the journey, not the destination. However, tightly aligned sales and marketing operations lead to 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth. A prospect can always tell when there is a disconnect between the two.
Prime example: An SDR calls a contact in a target account and he says he’s already in a conversation with an account exec. You can tell by his tone he’s annoyed that you didn’t know this. Immediately he’s thinking there is a lag in SDR and AE communication. This is not the impression you want to leave.
As and SDR, I reported to marketing, but still had a close relationship with the sales team – so I was able to see both ends of the spectrum. It taught me that a key component of building relationships, internally and with your prospect, is sales and marketing alignment.
Take a consultative approach
No one likes to be sold to and a prospect can tell when your conversation is quota-driven. Prospects want to know that you’re there to help them solve a problem, not sell them another solution that promises to make their life easier but fails to deliver. I always took a consultative approach, looking to help prospects solve a challenge – not to sell our services. The prospect’s best interest was my number one priority.
The same consultative approach I used as an SDR applies to my life in marketing. I reflect on all the conversations I had with prospects and how I acted as a personal guide to help them navigate the buyer’s journey.
Because the more you know about a prospect before you reach out, the better. Cold-calling is one thing, but if you don’t take the time to understand the account and why your solution is a good fit before you make contact, they will notice and call you out. Instead of going straight for the sale, I learned it was much better to take the time to understand the challenges facing the person on the other end of the phone and do as much as I could to learn about their entire sales and marketing environment.
Have grit & hang in there
Tactful persistence is what makes for the most successful SDRs. Many times, it was my persistence alone, which determined whether I hit my numbers. As an SDR, it was always about keeping the faith even when quotas seemed grim. There’s a link here to marketing as well, because your programs aren’t going to succeed overnight. Marketing is about building and constantly experimenting, so you’re going to have to take an ‘L’ here and there. If a campaign isn’t working well, keep iterating until you get the results you’re looking for.
So, marketers, here’s my request to you: next time you walk by your SDR team, strike up a conversation and see what they might be able to teach you. With these tactics, you can skip the SDR life and apply this insight to your marketing strategy today.