You’re not JUST an SDR: Step by step guide to fill in pipeline
Author: collin stewart
Nadja Komnenic is the Head of Business Development at Lemlist — the email automation and cold outreach platform that is currently taking the sales world by storm. Aside from being a LinkedIn thought leader and managing a large and highly successful sales team, Nadja has recently started a YouTube channel documenting her efforts to expand Lemlist’s outbound sales into the US market. She joined the Predictable Revenue team to explain how to build beneficial relationships, lead with value, and use combo prospecting to generate more pipeline.
“So what we’re going to cover today,” explains Nadja, “is the mindset that SDRs need to develop in order to build fruitful relationships and become the best asset for their company that they can.”
Sales Tools Are No Substitute For Developing Relationships
It is now a common occurrence for SDRs to lean heavily on their sales tools when approaching their craft. They have a sequencer tool, and their focus is on maximizing the volume of prospects they can reach through cold emailing or cold calling. However, often this focus on numbers means they can’t make the most of the contacts network they’ve developed.
“When you’re tied to a sequencing tool, or any tool at all, you lose that fundamentally human power to build relationships. So, what actually is the difference between technology and humans? It’s the ability to be creative, to build relationships, and find different ways to approach problems.”
It’s beneficial for salespeople to distance themselves from technology and consider how they can approach sales in a more imaginative fashion. “Start thinking about how you can use your creativity to stand out. That’s where you as an SDR become most valuable.”
Another area that many sales professionals would do well to work on is developing their own personal brand. “There are millions of SDRs in the world. By building your brand on LinkedIn — or other platforms like Instagram and Facebook — that’s how you start to become more credible. If nothing else, you are starting to be perceived as a thought leader, which is how you’ll really start to make a name for yourself.”
Think Like A CEO But Act Like An SDR
At Lemlist, Nadja encourages her team members to think like CEOs but to act like SDRs. “By this, I mean that CEOs are the ones who are going to do their best to keep the company running. That’s their core mission: they’re going to come up with new ideas, they’re going to come up with new sources of revenue, new channels, completely breaking outside of the box.”
To reach their full potential, SDRs should work hard on developing this mindset themselves. “At the moment that you actually make this happen, and you make this switch in your mindset, you will start to stand out and create more of that top funnel buzz around you as an SDR. This will help you to generate more inbound leads without having to rely on marketing.”
This is where a salesperson’s creativity can really pay dividends. By developing innovative approaches to problems, you can achieve excellent results on a tight budget while also generating interest in yourself and your company. “About a month ago, we started expanding into the US. Remember, we are bootstrapped, meaning we didn’t raise any funds. We are not spending any money on adverts. So we are going against these incredible competitors, and if we are only cold emailing, cold calling, and LinkedIn messaging, we’re going to struggle. So, we decided to create our own YouTube channel and document our entire journey for our audience to see, as these are the same problems and pain points that they are facing. That’s the way we’ve found to stand out.”
Improve Email Deliverability With Lemlist And Lemwarm
Anyone with sales experience is likely to be familiar with email deliverability issues. Given how much work is frequently put into crafting these messages, this can be a real problem for sales teams. “SDRs are putting so much effort into personalizing their emails, into doing the research, into making their messages stand out. They’re doing everything possible to catch the attention of the reader, and what happens is that those emails end up landing in spam folders and those emails are never read. If your open rates are below 50%, you know that you have problems with your deliverability.”
Typically, companies try to resolve this problem by “warming up” up their email domain, which helps to prevent their emails getting sent to spam folders. This involves employees sending messages to friends, to family members, and to colleagues. “You’re doing all of this manual work that can be completely automated.” Fortunately, this is an area where Lemlist can really help. The platform has developed a community of over 15,000 members, and also created an email warm-up tool called Lemwarm.
“Lemwarm is a way for you to automatically warm up your domains by using our network of customers. So, if I were to start using Lemlist now, I would be sending emails to everyone else using Lemwarm. Then our customers will start sending these emails to each other on the backend. They’re going to be automatically replying to those emails in a thread, removing them from spam and marking them as important. So you’re joining this incredible network of real-life domains who are actively sending emails, not using newly created addresses, and it literally pushes your deliverability to the top.”
How To Hit The Ground Running As A New SDR
Reflecting on her experiences as a novice SDR, Nadja felt that there were a number of lessons she wished she’d learned earlier on. “When I started off in sales I switched from marketing, so I obviously had no idea what I was doing.” Like many early-career SDR’s, she tended to wait for guidance from her team leaders rather than independently looking for opportunities for advancement. “So, taking that step where you take the initiative and learn by yourself, rather than waiting for your managers to give it to you on a plate — that’s where you start to stand out”.
Another lesson that early career SDRs would be wise to learn is that simply sending as many cold emails as possible is rarely the most effective sales methodology. “This is not the approach that actually converts best.” A much better way of doing things is to focus on cultivating mutually beneficial relationships with as many people as possible.
“By building relationships, you’re positioning yourself in a way that you’re not only going to get that demo booked or deal signed. You’re also building a relationship that’s going to last for a lifetime. You’re able to drive so much more from that one relationship.” This includes intros, seeking advice, and possibly even getting good job referrals. There’s so much you can gain from that relationship — and it’s not all revenue based.
Of course, when trying to forge relationships with more senior professionals, it’s easy to get intimidated. However, it’s important to try to maintain your confidence. “All of the people that we are reaching out to are human beings, even those on a C-Level. That’s also one of the mistakes I made. If you’re approaching a C-Level as an SDR, you immediately put yourself in that lower position where you think ‘okay — I’m scared — I don’t know how to approach this person. The fact is that these are all humans. We can all talk in the same way.”
Building your confidence is, in fact, one of the most important things you can work on as a young SDR. In the beginning, it’s normal for SDRs to be scared. It’s normal not to have the same energy and confidence that you will later on. This is an area where developing your network, and building your brand, can really help. “By positioning yourself as a thought leader, you’ll start to be perceived as a thought leader, and eventually you’ll start to believe it yourself. When you’re getting approached by others, you’ll start to gain trust in yourself.”
However, it’s also important for more senior professionals to help build their junior colleagues’ confidence, wherever possible. “I have a teammate who just joined us a couple of months ago — and the first time that she did a practice call, she literally cried.” A new SDR can naturally have that kind of fear, and it’s vital to think of ways to help them overcome it. “I feel it’s really dependent on the managers, and on sales leaders, to work out how to handle these types of things effectively. Having that encouragement from your manager can make a huge difference.”
If you would like to hear more of Nadja’s valuable advice on becoming an effective SDR, you can watch the full video with Predictable Revenue here.
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