SDR Mindset: What Does it Mean? With Jesui Ayala

Being an SDR is a challenging role. It requires a broad skillset: cold calling, research, and lead qualification, just to name a few. But equally important is the mindset it takes to succeed in this role. Eventually, you’ll get used to interacting with people in different emotional states, and it won’t bother you as much.

Our latest podcast guest is an SDR and Implementation Manager at Predictable Revenue. As a former SDR and now manager, Jesui Ayala was the perfect person to discuss the SDR mindset and what it takes to build a successful sales development career.

Being an SDR is Not a Junior Role 

There’s a common misconception that SDR is a junior position, especially when compared to account executives (AEs). The reality is that SDRs are integral to sales development; without them, the entire pipeline would grind to a halt.

If you’re just starting in an SDR role, it’s important to understand how your work contributes to the rest of the organization. Prospecting is a crucial part of the sales process. As an SDR, you’re the first point of contact with potential customers, which should never be discounted.

You are the front lines of commerce. Without you, problems will remain unsolved, your future customers will stay stuck and frustrated, and your company will fail to make it to market. SDRs are central to keeping the B2B economy moving forward.

Why You Shouldn’t Take Rejection Personally

Rejection is an inevitable part of being an SDR. Some prospects will say no, and others will simply hang up the phone or straight-up be rude or offensive. The important thing to remember is that their response isn’t a personal rejection.

It’s easier to understand them when you think of people as grown babies who don’t cry as frequently; we’re all miserable when hungry, tired, or pooped in our pants. You need to understand your prospects and be empathetic enough to understand their day might be hectic but not too empathetic to feel like you’re bothering them with your call.

At the end of the day, you’re calling because you believe you can help them make progress on something they’re struggling with that will improve their lives. When you start thinking about it this way and empathize with these poor people with unsolved problems, it’s almost cruel if you don’t call them to try to help. It’s essential to reframe the role and see yourself as a superhero coming to rescue a future customer because it’ll make everything else easier.

Think of each rejection as a learning opportunity. Ask yourself what went wrong and what you can do better next time. The only way to improve your prospecting is through practice.

One of the best ways to overcome a fear of cold calling is through role play.

Roleplaying is the most awkward thing that will make you extraordinary.. Your first role-plays will be an uncomfortable experience, but listening to your calls, getting feedback, and role-playing it with a colleague is the fastest way to get good.

You can role-play different call scenarios with your fellow SDRs, friends, and family members. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll become.

Surviving Your First Week as an SDR

Stepping into an SDR role can be difficult, especially if you don’t have experience in B2B sales development. Remember that no one is great on their first day; prospecting is an iterative process that takes time to master.

Being in sales is as close as you can get to being an entrepreneur without starting your own company.  As long as you hit your goals, you have the autonomy to hit them however you’d like, and your performance dictates the size of your paycheque. With this freedom, risk, and upside your success is 100% on you. The top SDRs treat their quota like a business and own the results, good or bad.

The best thing you can do as a new SDR is to work on your mindset. Decide to become great at prospecting, even if you don’t feel like a natural. This growth mindset will lead you to seek out opportunities to improve.

There are so many different ways to learn: shadowing experienced salespeople, reading or listening to sales content, role-playing, and submitting your goals for review by a manager. Listening back to your cold calls can also be a powerful learning tool.

The Importance of Being Open to Feedback

While some people excel naturally in sales development, that doesn’t give you a free pass to stop working at it. No matter how much of a natural you are, there are always ways to improve.

Seeking feedback and implementing the change to your process/technique is one of the hardest things to do. Someone curious and wanting to get better will always strive.

Self-awareness is key in an SDR role. Look for critical feedback, not praise. Seek out feedback from your manager, AE, and even your peers. An outside perspective can help pinpoint weaknesses you might have otherwise missed.

Reps who make time to listen to their own calls, review where their meetings are coming from and why, and note what’s working and what’s not, improve at a way faster rate than their peers and are more efficient.

Bringing Creativity Into the SDR Role

B2B buyers receive hundreds of emails and dozens of calls every day. If you want to stand out from the crowd, that means getting creative. The best way to do that is to put yourself in your prospect’s shoes.

If you call a prospect at 10:00 am, you could be the seventh cold call they’ve received that day. Break the pattern with a creative opener. For example, instead of asking, “How are you?” or “Is this a good time?” try asking if they’ve had their coffee yet.

Another approach is to mention something they’ve posted recently: “I was looking forward to connecting with you after I saw your post on LinkedIn about X.”

Don’t be afraid to get creative or make the prospect laugh. The biggest mistake SDRs make in prospecting is taking it too seriously; CEOs are still human. No matter how great your product is, people ultimately buy from others.

Need help designing a high-converting sequence or call script? Click here to learn how we can help.

How to Reframe Your Prospecting Mindset

According to research from Zippia, 63% of salespeople think cold calling is the worst part of their job. Part of this stems from the belief that they’re “bothering” prospects by interrupting their day.

The only way to overcome this resistance is to reframe your mindset. If you genuinely believe in the product you’re selling, it would be a disservice not to let prospects know about it. They have a problem that your product solves, and you’re offering them something that will make their life easier.

If you want to gain confidence in prospecting, you need to empathize with your customers. Get to know their pain points. Become passionate about helping them solve their problem, and you’ll be able to approach the sales process with a completely different mindset.

Adding Your Input to the Prospecting Process

Some sales development jobs require you to follow a cold call script or email outreach sequence. But what do you do if you don’t feel like your script is effective?

Don’t be afraid to offer your input; as an SDR, you’re the one talking to prospects every day. No one better understands what’s working and what’s not. Even if your sequence is converting, there’s always room for improvement.

Don’t settle for a “good enough” script just because it’s what you were handed. At the end of the day, it’s your responsibility hit your quota.

Taking Ownership of Your Role in the Sales Development Process

As an SDR, your job is to book meetings that will turn into customers. If you don’t feel like you were given the right data or process to succeed, then it’s up to you to try something different.

Your first goal should be to gain a deep understanding of the prospect. Go beyond the information you were given during onboarding and talk to AEs, marketing, and other salespeople. Even better, get the information directly from prospects.

Ask lots of questions on each call. Follow your ideal customer on LinkedIn and pay attention to what they’re talking about, trends in their industry, pain points, etc. This level of dedication is what will elevate you to a top performer.

Traits of a Successful SDR

If you’re an SDR looking to advance in your career, there are a few traits more important than consistency. Sales leaders want reps they can rely on to reach quota each month because it allows them to predict revenue more accurately.

The typical path for advancement is to become an AE, but that’s only one option. The skills you learn as an SDR will set you up for success in various roles, including revenue, IT, marketing, and management.

If there’s a certain part of the sales development process you enjoy, follow that interest. For example, IT could be a good fit if you love managing your tech stack. Marketing could be a good move if you love sequence design and content creation.

Advice for New SDRs

Your first day as an SDR can be overwhelming. Jesui recommends breaking down your tasks into smaller pieces to make things more manageable; if you need to make 100 calls, split that into ten blocks of ten, then take a break between each block.

Secondly, ensure you have a strong support system and healthy habits in place. Jesui recommends choosing an inspirational song to help you kickstart your work each day, along with a celebration song to celebrate your wins.

SDRs need to celebrate their wins, no matter how small. Keeping a positive mindset is the key to thriving in sales development. If you want to connect with Jesui to learn more about the SDR mindset, reach out via LinkedIn.



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